Thank you, Chair,
Let me join others in welcoming ambassador Markus Schlagenhof and ambassador Kurt Jäger and their delegations to this Trade Policy Review. Let me also thank the discussant for his contribution to our deliberations.
I am delighted to have this opportunity to contribute to the Trade Policy Review of two countries with whom Norway has a long-lasting and particularly close trading relationship. We might have varying sectoral and business interests, but we come together in a shared belief in the value of a rules-based, predictable, transparent, fair and open multilateral trading system.
Norway, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein are, together with Iceland, longstanding partners as members of the European Free Trade Association. Since 1960 EFTA has provided a framework for the promotion of free trade and economic integration between its members.
Furthermore, EFTA is a platform for one of the world’s largest networks of preferential trade relations, currently covering 40 countries. We work closely together, firmly based on WTO rules, to widen this network and to extend commitments, and negotiations with new partners are ongoing.
Norway and Liechtenstein are also partners in the Agreement on the European Economic Area, which extends the internal market of the European Union to the three EFTA States Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
The Secretariat's report confirms the strong commitments of Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the rules-based multilateral trading system. This is of particular importance in a time when the rules-based world order is being challenged at its core.
We commend Switzerland for its leadership of the Friends of the System. We would also like to highlight the willingness of Switzerland’s delegates to not only take on responsibilities as chairs of various WTO bodies, but also to involve themselves constructively in areas that may be of limited interest to Switzerland, but for the sake of the system, such as the negotiations on fisheries subsidies.
The fact that ambassador Chambovey is currently chairing the General Council is not only an expression of Members’ trust in his personal capabilities, but also a reflection of the standing and reputation of Switzerland as a reliable and true friend of the multilateral trading system.
Norway appreciates our close cooperation with Switzerland and Liechtenstein across the board within the WTO framework, both in regular bodies, ongoing negotiations, as well as in various member-driven initiatives.
Both Switzerland and Liechtenstein attach importance to non-trade concerns in agriculture, which are shared by Norway. We appreciate the close cooperation in the G10 and are grateful to Switzerland for all your efforts through the years in coordinating the group.
We also share the importance attached to trade and environmental sustainability, and appreciate in particular the close cooperation with Switzerland in TESSD as well as in the ongoing ACCTS negotiations.
As a leading maritime nation, Norway has a particular interest in the maritime policies of other members. In this regard, we note with interest that the Swiss government has commissioned a maritime strategy and that draft legislation on international shipping under the Swiss flag is to be drawn up in order to enhance the long-term effectiveness of Swiss legislation in this area and make Swiss shipping more competitive and sustainable. Norway would like to thank Switzerland for their response to our written question and will follow with interest the further development of Switzerland’s maritime policies.
In conclusion, Chair, Norway is looking forward to continuing our close cooperation with Switzerland and Liechtenstein in order to protect and strengthen the rules-based multilateral trading system anchored in the WTO, to the benefit of current and future generations.
Finally, let me wish Switzerland and Liechtenstein a successful Trade Policy Review.