Free Trade Agreement between EFTA and Egypt signed; feasibility of a comprehensive trade agreement between EFTA and Indonesia assessed

Bern, 27.01.2007 - Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard and the Ministers of the EFTA States (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) signed a free trade agreement with the Egyptian Minister of Trade and Industry in Davos on 27 January 2007; the EFTA Ministers also met with the Indonesian Minister of Trade to discuss the feasibility of a comprehensive trade agreement.

The free trade agreement between the EFTA States and the Arab Republic of Egypt was signed on the margins of the WEF Annual Meeting in Davos. EFTA was represented by the head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Doris Leuthard, Iceland's minister for foreign affairs and external trade, Mrs Valgerður Sverrisdóttir, the foreign minister of Liechtenstein, Mrs Rita Kieber-Beck and Norway's foreign minister, Mr Jonas Gahr Støre. The Egyptian delegation was led by the minister of trade and industry Rachid Mohamed Rachid.

The free trade agreement between EFTA and Egypt liberalises trade in industrial products and processed agricultural products. It also contains provisions concerning the protection of intellectual property rights, competition and technical cooperation. The provisions on services, investments and public procurement provide for further negotiations at a later date. Similarly to other free trade agreements concluded by EFTA, trade in basic agricultural products is covered by bilateral arrangements concluded with Egypt individually by each EFTA State. The agreements will enter into force following their ratification, which is expected in the course of the year.

This agreement concluded with Egypt, together with those already concluded with other countries from the Euro-Mediterranean area (Turkey, Israel, Morocco, Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia) will enable the EFTA States to continue their efforts with a view to participate in the Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area, which is in the process of being established following an EU initiative as part of the Barcelona Declaration.

The Swiss economy is highly dependent on exports towards diversified markets. Alongside membership of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and contractual relations with the European Union (EU), the conclusion of free trade agreements with trading partners outside the EU constitutes one of the three main pillars of Switzerland's policy of improving market access framework conditions for international economic relations.

The Ministers of the EFTA States also met with the Indonesian Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu. Ministers reviewed the findings of the EFTA-Indonesia Joint Study Group that was established about a year ago by the Ministers to discuss the feasibility of a comprehensive trade agreement between the EFTA States and Indonesia. The Study Group came to the conclusion that both sides would benefit from such an agreement. Based on the findings of the Study Group, Ministers agreed to prepare the ground in view of a decision on the launch of negotiations.


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