Almaty hosting negotiations on free trade zone between Customs Union and EFTA
By Yaroslav Radlovsky ©
Almaty, the biggest city of Kazakhstan, is hosting the 2nd round of negotiations on free trade agreement between the Customs Union member states and European Free Trade Association (EFTA), a Tengrinews.kz reports from the Almaty sitting. Delegations of Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein have come to participate in the talks alongside representatives of Russia and Belarus. The Kazakh delegation is headed by Ms. Zhanar Aitzhanova, acting Minister of Economic Development and Trade. The talks will last until April 14. According to Ms. Aitzhanova, a free trade zone would enhance the competitive edge of Kazakhstan and that of other sides. This will enable to deepen cooperation in pharmaceuticals, industrial engineering, processing industries and other realms. “The agreement will bolster transfer of technology”, she said. At the sitting the sides exchanged information on agriculture policies of the states and measures of support to agriculture sector players. According to the National Bank of Kazakhstan, from 1993 to 2010 Kazakhstan attracted a total of $ 123.9 billion of investments. Major investors to Kazakhstan are the USA, the Netherlands, Virgin Islands, France and Italy. EFTA nations have injected a total of $ 4.4 billion. The 1st round of negotiations was held in Geneva January 11-14, 2011. The experts dwelt on tariff and non-tariff regulation of goods trade, customs clearance procedures, protection of IPR. The sides outlined the scope of the would-be agreement. November 23 Geneva hosted a ceremony to start negotiations between the Customs Union member states and EFTA states on launching a free trade zone. The idea was suggested by Russia. The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) is a free trade organization between four European countries that operates parallel to, and is linked to, the European Union (EU). EFTA was established on 3 May 1960 as a trade bloc-alternative for European states who were either unable to, or chose not to, join the then-European Economic Community (EEC) which has now become the European Union (EU). The Stockholm Convention, establishing EFTA, was signed on 4 January 1960 in Stockholm by seven countries. Today, only Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein remain members of EFTA.