EFTA To Negotiate FTAs With Ukraine, Serbia And Russia


Negotiations have begun on a broad-based Free Trade Agreement between the four EFTA States (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) and Ukraine. EFTA also initiated discussions into a free trade accord with Serbia in late April, while negotiations with Russia over a similar agreement are scheduled for Autumn 2009.

During the opening ceremony of a meeting between Ukraine and EFTA, Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Hryhoriy Nemyria and Minister of Economy Bogdan Danylyshyn underlined the significance of launching free trade negotiations in the midst of the current world financial crisis and of their strong political will to avoid protectionist measures. They highlighted the role of a strong and reliable partnership with the EFTA countries and expressed the hope that the elimination of trade barriers would benefit their citizens and increase welfare.

EFTA Deputy Secretary-General Didier Chambovey, for his part, welcomed the launch of negotiations with Ukraine, which is an important trading partner of the EFTA States. He stressed the importance of creating new market opportunities in a period of global economic downturn and highlighted EFTA’s ambition to swiftly conclude a comprehensive free trade agreement building on WTO rules and commitments.

Building on preparatory work, the first round of discussions focused on establishing a joint document, which details the general framework for the negotiations as well as the scope and principles of the future Free Trade Agreement between the partners.

At a joint press conference, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko and his Swiss counterpart Hans-Rudolf Merz expressed their countries’ wish to establish trade without barriers in a timely manner. Both leaders underlined their commitment to concluding the agreement by the end of 2010.

EFTA also initiated discussions on a free trade agreement with Serbia in Belgrade on April 28-30, 2009. Building on longstanding relations, the parties agreed to aim at an agreement focusing on the liberalisation and facilitation of trade in goods and on the strengthening of intellectual property rights. During the meetings, all parts of the draft agreement were discussed and significant progress achieved.

To keep up the momentum, the two delegations agreed to meet again in June 2009. It is hoped that the free trade agreement will facilitate increased trade between EFTA and Serbia, which amounted to USD250m in 2007.

Quelle: Tax-News.com