Updating and fta

It is the goal of EFTA's third-country policy to safeguard the economic interests of its Member States, to support and reinforce the process of European and interregional integration, and to contribute to worldwide efforts to liberalise trade and investment.Combining the contractual framework that the EFTA States have with the European Union and the free trade agreements that EFTA has with third countries, approximately 80% of EFTA's total merchandise trade is today covered by preferential trade arrangements.EFTA's third-country policy was initially established in 1990 to mirror the European Union's external economic relations approach after the end of the Cold War.

The first broad-based EFTA free trade agreement was concluded in 2000 with Mexico.Since then, more such agreements have followed, and EFTA is continuing to expand its network with partners around the world.At the same time, further topics are being introduced in EFTA free trade agreements, such as trade facilitation, sustainable development and cooperation.In the 1990s, the EFTA States concluded free trade agreements with a number of countries which subsequently became members of the European Union (Bulgaria, the Czech and Slovak Republics, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovenia).These agreements were replaced by the relevant arrangements between the EFTA States and the EU.

For a short description of the main subjects addressed in EFTA free trade agreements, click here.Currently, the EFTA States have 27 free trade agreements (covering 38 countries) with the following partners: The last two decades have seen an impressive expansion of EFTA’s free trade network.However, in more recent years, EFTA’s activities in updating and further developing existing FTAs have become more important.In this article, we will look into the substantial changes in EFTA's free trade negotiations over the years and how EFTA is looking into incorporating these changes into existing FTAs.The EFTA Bulletin published in December 2013 looks at EFTA's free trade relations with partner countries outside the European Union.The publication is avaliable in paper or electronic form in PDF format for PCs and laptops, as well as in e PUB format for tablets and smartphones.