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European Free Trade Association

European Free Trade Association:

India and the four-nation bloc EFTA recently discussed ways to resume negotiations for a free trade agreement with a view to strengthening economic ties between the two regions.

  • European Free Trade Association (EFTA) is an intergovernmental organization established in 1960 by the Stockholm Convention.
  • Objective is to promotes free trade and economic integration between its members within Europe and globally.
  • EFTA currently has 4 member countries: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
  • The EFTA countries have developed one of the largest networks of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).
  • These FTAs span over 60 countries and territories, including the European Union (EU).
  • In contrast to the EU, EFTA is not a customs union.
  • This means that the individual EFTA States are free to set their own customs tariffs and arrange other foreign trade measures vis-à-vis the non-EFTA States.
  • EFTA’s highest governing body is the EFTA Council.
  • It generally meets 8 times a year at the ambassadorial level and twice a year at the ministerial level.
  • The headquarters of the EFTA Secretariat is located in Geneva.
  • It assists the EFTA Council in the management of relations between the 4 EFTA States and deals with the negotiation and operation of EFTA’s FTAs.
  • EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) monitors compliance with European Economic Area (EEA) rules in Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
  • EFTA Court is based in Luxembourg and has the competence and authority to settle internal and external disputes regarding the implementation, application or interpretation of the EEA agreement.
  • European Economic Area (EEA) consists of the Member States of the European Union (EU) and three countries of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA)(Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, excluding Switzerland).