Trade is a large and instrumental part of the work of the Norwegian Mission in Geneva. As home to both the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), Geneva is a vital centre for international trade policy.
Norway has a very open economy and our extensive trade with other countries has been a key driver for our economic development. We rely on international trade rules and agreements in order to secure predictable and favourable conditions so that our exporters may gain wide market access in foreign markets. Our foreign trade is regulated through a number of agreements and regulations, with the WTO Agreements serving as the overall framework opening up for the negotiation of the EEA Agreement and several Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) through EFTA.
The WTO is the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations. The Multilateral Trading system as defined by the WTO provides predictability and legitimacy through shared rules, bound commitments, decision making through consensus, and recourse to a rules-based settlement of disputes.
At the Permanent Mission in Geneva we work hard to gain better market access for Norwegian exporters in various trade negotiations, while at the same time defending the interests of Norwegian agriculture by ensuring that national priorities are taken into consideration. We also defend and advocate specific Norwegian business interests if we believe Norwegian companies face unjustifiable disadvantages abroad. Norway may raise these issues of irregularities or non-compliance in both regular committee meetings as well as through the dispute settlement system of the WTO.
We also work actively to assist Developing and Least-Developed Countries (LDCs) in negotiations and regular work related to trade in Geneva. Norway consistently supports developing and least developed countries financially through aid for trade activities in organisations such as ITC (the International Trade Centre) and the EIF (Enhanced Integrated Framework), both in Geneva and elsewhere. Norway supports the developing countries in their efforts to put development high on the agenda both in the regular WTO work and in the various negotiations. This, we hope, will enable more developing countries and LDCs to become more connected to what is popularly referred to as the Global Value Chains, and in turn cause stronger economic growth and create more jobs.
Outside of the WTO, Norway negotiates most of its free trade agreements with other countries through EFTA. The collaboration between the EFTA-states has proved to be very successful in both establishing agreements of great importance to the member countries and continuously expanding its network of partner countries worldwide.
In short, the Norwegian Mission in Geneva explains, defends and pursues Norwegian economic interests at the WTO and EFTA, while at the same time striving to ensure that Developing Countries and LDCs gain favourable opportunities to join the world of international trade.
Ambassador Harald Neple