Tax-News | 19 December 2017
EFTA and Ecuador progress free trade talks
by Ulrika Lomas
The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) states – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland – and Ecuador have concluded the fifth round of talks towards an agreement that will reduce tariff and non-tariff barriers to bilateral trade.
The fifth round of negotiations towards a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement took place in Geneva on December 15 and, according to EFTA, were held "in a constructive atmosphere on the basis of the results achieved in the fourth round."
At the previous round of talks in October 2017, which also took place in Geneva, expert working groups discussed a long list of draft texts in the areas of trade in goods, trade facilitation, technical barriers to trade, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, trade remedies, trade in services, investment, intellectual property rights, government procurement, trade and sustainable development, cooperation, legal and institutional issues, and dispute settlement.
"The intersessional exchanges and the fifth round allowed them to conclude negotiations in a number of areas, subject to legal review of the texts, where as in some other areas a limited number of open issues and follow-up work remain," EFTA said.
The delegations agreed to aim to complete the follow-up work and the legal review of the texts in the first half of next year.
Merchandise trade between the EFTA states and Ecuador reached USD275m in 2016, EFTA said.
EFTA’s top exports to Ecuador include pharmaceutical products, chemicals, machinery, and mechanical appliances. EFTA imports mainly consist of fruits, cocoa, cut flowers, and precious metals from Ecuador.
Pharmaceuticals represent over 60 percent of EFTA’s exports to Ecuador, while fruits represent 40 percent of Ecuador’s exports to EFTA.
The stock of foreign direct investment in Ecuador’s economy originating from the EFTA states reached USD678m in 2012.