Ministers from the member states of the European Free Trade Association — Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland — have signed two separate free trade agreements with Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Costa Rica and Panama, in order to strengthen bilateral economic ties and promote cross-border trade and investment.
On the EFTA side, the FTAs were signed by Trond Giske, Norway’s minister of trade and industry; Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, Iceland’s minister for foreign affairs and external trade; Aurelia Frick, Liechtenstein’s minister of foreign affairs; and Johann N. Schneider-Ammann, head of Switzerland’s Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research. Mirko Šarović, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s minister of foreign trade and economic relations, signed on behalf of his region, while Anabel González, Costa Rica’s minister of foreign trade, and Ricardo Quijano, Panama’s minister of trade and industry, signed the other FTA on behalf of their nations.
While the FTA with Bosnia and Herzegovina mostly covers trade in industrial goods, including fish and other marine products, bilateral agreements on agricultural products between the individual EFTA states and Bosnia and Herzegovina were also included. In other fields, the basis has been laid for agreeing on preferential rules in the future.
Merchandise trade between the EFTA nations and Bosnia and Herzegovina increased at an average rate of 16.3 percent between 2001 and 2012, reaching US$138 million in 2012.
The FTA with Costa Rica and Panama covers trade in goods, including industrial and agricultural goods, fish and other marine products; rules of origin; trade facilitation; trade in services; investment; competition; protection of intellectual property rights; government procurement; and sustainable development. Other Central American countries may join the FTA later.
Merchandise trade between the members of EFTA and Costa Rica and Panama increased at an average annual rate of 6.2 percent between 2002 and 2012, reaching US$689 million last year.
Both FTAs will be supervised by joint committees that will become effective after completion of the necessary internal procedures by all of the parties.
In addition, EFTA ministers have signed a joint declaration on cooperation with Myanmar to further mutual economic relations. The JDC establishes a joint EFTA-Myanmar committee, providing the parties with a forum to discuss relevant issues. The agreement was signed by Giske, Sveinsson, Frick and Schneider-Ammann, as well as Pwint San, deputy minister of commerce of Myanmar.