Yes, the EFTA States are not required by the EFTA Agreement to conclude preferential trade agreements as a group. You retain the full right to enter into bilateral agreements with third countries. EFTA has concluded several free trade agreements with third countries, as well as declarations on cooperation and joint working groups to improve trade. Currently, in addition to the 28 Member States of the European Union, the EFTA States have established preferential trade relations with 24 States and territories.  If you have any questions or comments about this free trade agreement, we would like to hear from you. Please contact Global Affairs Canada at: Although EFTA is not a customs union and Member States have full right to conclude bilateral trade agreements with third countries, they have a coordinated trade policy.  As a result, their Member States have jointly concluded free trade agreements with the EU and a number of other countries.  In order to participate in the EU`s internal market, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway are parties to the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA), compliance with which is regulated by the EFTA Surveillance Authority and the EFTA Court of Justice. Instead, Switzerland has concluded a number of bilateral agreements with the EU.
The original plan for the EEA lacked the EFTA Court of Justice or the EFTA Surveillance Authority: the European Court of Justice and the European Commission would have to carry out these tasks. However, during the negotiations on the EEA Agreement, the Court of Justice of the European Union informed the Council of the European Union in writing that it considered that it would be contrary to the Treaties to confer these powers on the EU institutions in respect of non-EU States. [Citation needed] Therefore, the current regulations were developed instead. Can EFTA States also sign bilateral free trade agreements? Relations between the EU and Switzerland in the field of agriculture are governed by the 2002 agreement between the EU and Switzerland on trade in agricultural products. This Agreement provides for the elimination of customs duties and the creation of duty-free quotas for a number of products; However, trade has not yet been fully liberalized. The agreement also contains provisions on trade facilitation in a number of areas, such as wines and spirits, geographical indications, organic products and fruit and vegetables. Switzerland and the United Kingdom have concluded and signed several agreements in areas such as trade, migration, air transport, road transport, financial services and citizens` rights. These agreements will enter into force until a new free trade agreement is negotiated and enters into force. Due to Liechtenstein`s participation in the Swiss customs territory, parts of these agreements have also been extended to Liechtenstein. The first objective of EFTA was to liberalise trade between its Member States. In 1972, each EFTA State negotiated bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) with the EEC.
Currently, the EFTA states have a total of 29 free trade agreements in force or awaiting ratification, covering 40 partner countries worldwide (outside Europe). The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Canada and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, is a pure products agreement focused on reducing tariffs. It undertakes to review the agreement with a view to examining at a later stage the possibility of a possible extension of the FTA to areas such as services, investment and intellectual property. In 1992, EFTA and the EU signed the Agreement on the European Economic Area in Porto, Portugal. However, the proposal to ratify Switzerland`s participation was rejected in a referendum. (Nevertheless, Switzerland has concluded several bilateral agreements with the EU that allow it to participate in the European single market, the Schengen Agreement and other programmes). Thus, with the exception of Switzerland, EFTA members are also members of the European Economic Area (EEA). The EEA comprises three Member States of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and 28 Member States of the European Union (EU), including Croatia, which is provisionally applying the Agreement pending its ratification by all EEA countries.   It was created on 1 January 1994 following an agreement with the European Community (which became the EU two months earlier).  It allows EFTA-EEA countries to participate in the EU internal market without being members of the EU. They adopt almost all EU legislation on the internal market, with the exception of legislation on agriculture and fisheries. However, they also contribute to and influence the formation of new policies and legislation relevant to the EEA at an early stage as part of a formal decision-making process.