Even if a trade agreement is reached, it will not remove all new controls, as the EU requires certain products (such as food) from third countries to be controlled. Companies must therefore be prepared. After agreement with the partners on the text of the agreement, the Commission submits formal proposals to the Council for adoption. The Council is playing a crucial role in drawing up a new trade agreement. In the EFTA countries, openness to trade and access to international markets is the basis for economic growth and the common good. The EFTA States actively apply and promote high standards of sustainable development and inclusion in their respective trade and foreign policies. By adopting model rules on trade and sustainable development in 2010, EFTA Ministers recognised the need to strengthen policy coherence at national and international level in order to exploit the potential of a positive contribution of international trade to the promotion of sustainable development. Although the WTO is generally referred to as a “free trade institution”, it sometimes allows customs duties and, in certain circumstances, other forms of protection. In concrete terms, it promotes a set of rules dedicated to open and fair competition.
EFTA free trade agreements are notified to the World Trade Organisation (WTO). They build on WTO rules and obligations, thereby improving the framework for cross-border economic trade and creating added value in terms of reducing barriers to trade and providing legal certainty. The EFTA States regard free trade agreements as a complement and not as a substitute for the multilateral trading system. . . .