Switzerland and the other EFTA states make significant efforts to monitor the implementation of the provisions of their free trade agreements (FTA). The main body responsible for this monitoring task is the joint committee, which is established for this purpose under each FTA. The joint committee is made up of representatives from the EFTA member states and the partner state and meets at regular intervals. At these meetings, issues related to the respective FTA are discussed, such as difficulties in implementing certain provisions or suggestions for amending or further developing the agreement.
Implementing the provisions on trade and sustainable development
For free trade partners with whom a chapter on trade and sustainable development has been negotiated, the implementation of the provisions of this chapter is discussed at the joint committee meeting. In order to prepare and support this discussion, EFTA regularly gathers information on developments and any implementation problems in the partner state during the reporting period and prepares updated profiles of these countries. For this it draws on publicly available sources of information as well as specific input from experts in the member states, from embassies in the partner state, from EFTA consultative bodies and national stakeholders, and from civil society in the EFTA states.
Involving civil society
To obtain information on possible implementation problems in agreements – including in the chapter on trade and sustainable development – the public is encouraged to share any relevant information, including via the SECO and EFTA websites. In Switzerland, civil society can share relevant information with SECO in various forums, such as the EAER’s Economic Policy Commission or the Foreign Trade-NGO Liaison Group, a forum open to all interested stakeholders.
The information gathered should lead to an in-depth discussion at the joint committee meeting. Based on this discussion, the EFTA states subsequently define any necessary follow-up measures. A summary of the efforts by Switzerland and EFTA to monitor the implementation of the trade and sustainable development provisions in their FTAs is available on the EFTA website: Trade and Sustainable Development in EFTA’s FTAs