Tax-News.com | 17 December 2014
EFTA states plan response to TTIP
by Ulrika Lomas, Brussels
The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries could be faced with important challenges from the proposed European Union-United States free trade agreement (FTA) known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), Swiss Federal Councillor Johan Schneider-Amman has said.
Speaking at a meeting of EFTA’s Consultative Committee, which represents trade unions and employers’ organizations in the four EFTA member countries, Schneider-Amman said that EFTA is in contact with TTIP’s negotiating parties.
Last month, ministers from EFTA’s member countries, namely Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland, were informed about the status of the TTIP negotiations by the Deputy US Trade Representative in Geneva, and in the European Economic Area (EEA) Joint Committee on December 12 another exchange of information took place, this time with representatives from the EU side.
The Consultative Committee also heard a presentation on EFTA and the TTIP by Professor Thomas Cottier, World Trade Institute, University of Bern. Cottier co-chaired a recent report to the Swiss government on ’Potential Impacts of a EU- US Free Trade Agreement on the Swiss Economy and External Economic Relations’.
Lastly, the Committee discussed the role of social partners with regards to free trade agreements and heard presentations by Marva Corley-Coulibaly and Rafael Peels from the International Labour Organization (ILO) on the social dimension of such agreements.
The goal of the TTIP is to eliminate all duties on bilateral trade, with the shared objective of achieving a substantial elimination of tariffs upon entry into force and a phasing out of all but the most sensitive tariffs in a short time frame. Members of the EU and the US reaffirmed their commitment to the proposed TTIP free trade deal, alongside the Group of Twenty nations (G-20) summit in Brisbane last month.
EFTA was set up in 1960 with the immediate aim of providing a framework for the liberalization of trade in goods among its member states. At the same time, EFTA was established as an economic counterbalance to the more politically driven European Economic Community (EEC), the forerunner of the EU. EFTA has FTAs in place with the 28 EU member states, in addition to 35 other countries worldwide.