Minister of Trade and Industry Monica Mæland participated on the EFTA Ministerial Meeting, which took place in Geneva on November 24 2017. The relationship with Turkey was one of the main topics.
EFTA upgrades deals with existing free trade partners. Renegotiating the agreement with Turkey has been particularly important. This agreement was EFTA’s first free trade agreement and thus ripe for modernizing. “I am very happy that we have reached agreement with Turkey on this. It is particularly important for Norway that we now have a good framework for trade in services”, says Minister Mæland.
The most important changes are that the agreement will now also cover trade in services, environment and labor rights. The Turkish Minister of Economy, Nihat Zeybekci, also celebrated that the negotiations are finalized.
Minister Mæland also discussed other free trade agreements and Brexit when she met her EFTA colleagues in Geneva. “The discussions we have internally in EFTA about Brexit and how the access to the British market can be retained are very useful and important”, she says.
She reiterated the importance of continuing EFTA’s work with free trade agreements, despite protectionist tendencies in other parts of the world. “Norway is a small, open economy, and the work with free trade agreements with large, important markets like Mercosur and India provides great potential gains for Norwegian business”, the Minister says.
The EFTA Ministers also signed a free trade agreement with Moldova. Read more about the Ministerial Meeting at EFTA’s homepage.
- EFTA (European Free Trade Association) was set up in 1960 for the promotion of free trade and economic integration between its members. The member states are today Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland
- The EFTA cooperation consists of maintaining and developing the EFTA Convention, which regulates economic relations between the four EFTA States, managing the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA Agreement), which brings together the Member States of the European Union and three of the EFTA States – Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway – in a single market, also referred to as the “Internal Market”, and developing EFTA’s worldwide network of free trade agreements
- The EFTA chairmanship rotates between its member states. Norway had the chairmanship in the spring of 2017, and hosted the Ministerial Meeting at Svalbard
- Norway has together with the other EFTA states made 27 free trade agreements with 38 states. The Turkey agreement from 1991 was EFTA’s first free trade agreement