In August 2019, member states of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA - Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) and of MERCOSUR (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) concluded in substance the negotiations on a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Besides economic gains, what moved both sides to reach a consensus was their belief that free trade is essential to guarantee in open society and the wellbeing of their peoples.
The EFTA-MERCOSUR Agreement covers trade in goods, trade in services, investment, intellectual property rights, government procurement, competition, sustainable development, and legal and horizontal issues including dispute settlement.
MERCOSUR is an important trading partner for EFTA and will allow EFTA companies to benefit from privileged access to a market of over 260 million consumers. Current EFTA bilateral trade in goods with MERCOSUR totalled €5,8 billion in 2018 (source: EFTA), with EFTA exports worth €3,7 billion and MERCOSUR imports for €2,1 billion. The new Free Trade Agreement will allow EFTA exporters to gain from progressive tariff cuts and ensure a level playing field with its main competitors in this important market. Norwegian companies with interests in Brazil will reap considerable benefits.
Negotiations towards the comprehensive FTA were preceded by a Joint Declaration on Cooperation, signed in December 2000, under which an exploratory dialogue with a view to possible future trade negotiations was initiated in March 2015 and concluded in January 2017. This was followed by the launch of negotiations with a first round in June 2017 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The agreement is now going through the final phases of a necessary legal review. It is expected that the Storting will start discussing its ratification next autumn.
Content of the Free Trade Agreement
The Agreement contains the following chapters:
• Trade in Goods
• Rules of Origin
• Trade Facilitation
• Trade Remedies
• Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures
• Technical Barriers to Trade
• Trade in Services
• Protection of Intellectual Property
• Government Procurement
• Trade and Sustainable Development
• Institutional Provisions
• Dispute Settlement
Trade in Goods
Industrial Goods including Fish and other marine products
With the entry into force of the Agreement, the EFTA States abolish all customs duties on imports of industrial products, including fish and other marine products, originating in MERCOSUR. MERCOSUR will gradually eliminate or reduce customs duties on most industrial products, including fish and other marine products, originating in EFTA countries.
The Agreement will, over a period of up to 15 years, remove or reduce duties on most goods currently exported to MERCOSUR by EFTA companies. For example, MERCOSUR countries will eliminate high duties on industrial products, such as:
• Pharmaceuticals (taxed at up to 14%);
• Machinery (taxed at 14 to 20%);
• Chemicals (taxed at up to 18%);
• Fish (taxed at up to 10%);
• Textiles (taxed at up to 35%);
• Car parts (taxed at 14 to 18%).
The Agreement provides for meaningful tariff concessions on both basic and processed agricultural products.
Among the EFTA states´ agricultural exports which will benefit from the Agreement, through the gradual elimination of duties, through tariff preferences or through tariff rate quotas, are those comprising products such as cheese, coffee, chocolate, lamb meat, spirits, sweets, waters, energy drinks and wines.
In return, EFTA countries offer concessions for agricultural imports of high importance to MERCOSUR. In the case of Norway, these concessions apply mostly to beef, poultry, corn, soya and sugarcane molasses.
Trade in Services
The chapter on trade in services closely follows the approach of the WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). It covers trade in all services sectors under all four modes of supply, i.e. cross-border supply, consumption abroad, commercial presence, presence of natural persons. Separate annexes on movement of natural persons supplying services, telecommunication services and financial services complement the chapter with additional disciplines specific to those sectors. The Parties have listed the sectors in which they undertake specific commitments, as well as the exemptions from most-favoured-nation treatment in further annexes. Those lists shall be reviewed periodically with the aim to further liberalise trade in services between both sides.
The MERCOSUR states have undertaken market access commitments in several sectors such as energy related services, maritime transport, telecommunications and financial services.
With regard to maritime transport, MERCOSUR’s offers were commensurable with the concessions made to the EU and comprehend a loosening of market restrictions after 10 years – navigation and cabotage in maritime transport are reserved for national vessels in MERCOSUR – and exemption from light dues after 2 years.
The aim of the chapter on investment is to improve the legal framework conditions for investors from both EFTA and MERCOSUR states. This is achieved by granting non-discriminatory rights of establishment (“commercial presence”) in economic sectors not covered by the chapter on trade in services. The Parties have listed sectors where they are willing to undertake these obligations. In certain economic areas, the Parties have included reservations to national treatment based on restrictions in their national legislations. The chapter also reaffirms the Parties’ right to regulate investments in order to achieve legitimate public policy objectives. The chapter foresees that investors can submit inquiries to a focal point.
The chapter also includes a provision which refers to the corporate social responsibility of enterprises.
Trade and Sustainable Development
The Agreement’s section on trade and sustainable development is based on the EFTA standard used in previous agreements but also includes additional elements that had never been included in EFTA’s FTAs.
The Parties recognise that economic development, social development and environmental protection are interdependent. They reiterate their commitment to multilateral agreements and principles regarding environmental and labour standards and accordingly reaffirm their obligation to effectively implement their respective international obligations. They also commit to uphold levels of protection while recognising the right of each Party to establish its own level of environmental and labour protection.
The chapter contains commitments to promote the Decent Work Agenda and, in this respect, to develop and enhance measures for decent working conditions, occupational safety and health, labour inspection and non-discrimination.
The chapter also contains commitments regarding the sustainable management of forests, including the fight against illegal logging, the promotion of certification schemes and the adoption of measures for forest restoration.
In the article on trade and climate change, the Parties commit to effectively implement the UNFCC and the Paris Agreement and recognise the importance of trade to contribute to the fight against climate change.
For the first time, EFTA has included a clause on trade and sustainable agriculture and food systems, in which the Parties agree to promote sustainable agriculture, as well as to conduct a dialogue devoted to the issue.
Additionally, the chapter also encloses articles concerning trade and biological diversity, as well as trade and sustainable management of fisheries and aquaculture. It also identifies potential areas for cooperation between the Parties on trade and sustainable development.
Read the article.
BNCC's board of directors had lunch and its first board meeting of 2020 at the Brazilian Official Residence in Oslo.
The Ambassador of Brazil, H.E. Mr. George Monteiro Prata joined the meeting which defined the strategy going forward for this year.
From 10th to 12th October 2019 was held in Reykjavik, Iceland, the Arctic Circle Assembly 2019.
The Arctic Circle Assembly is the largest non-governmental event abouy the Arctic in the entire world.
This year more than 2.100 people from more of 60 different countries have attended the 7th. edition of the Arctic Circle Assembly. Some of the keynotes speakers were the Primer Ministers of Finland, Iceland and Denmark. HRH the Crown Princess Victoria of Sweeden, the Energy Secretary of State from the United States of America did also take part. The invited honor guest was Senator John Kerry.
Brazil was represented in the Assembly, with a breakout session about "Brazil and the Sustainability of the Artic". Brazil was the only Latin American country to be represented this year.
Celma Regina Hellebust, Lawyer and a board director of BNCC, spoke about "Decommissioning of Oil and Gas Facilities in High Stakes Environments - the Brazilian Equatorial Margin and the Norwegian Arctic". The other speakers were Sergio C. Trindade, international consultant, and Leonardo Mattos, representing the Brazilian Navy.
BNCC, sister chamber NBCC Rio and Innovation Norway were represented at the first Innovation Brazil Leaders Forum in the São José dos Campos Technology Park in September.
Norway and Parque Tecnológico de São José dos Campos sign contract at Innovation Brazil Leaders Forum 2019 and open up opportunity for companies to exchange knowledge
Over 600 participants, among CEOs, international authorities, scientists and scholars from renowned institutions, talked about cooperation, integration, processes, mobility, accessibility and, above all, they stated that innovating means to take good care of people. BNCC attendance was marked with the signature of the MOU between Brazil and Norway
São José dos Campos, September 18th, 2019 - Innovation Brazil Leaders Forum first edition leaves a positive balance of reflections about innovation in the organizations. The event, conceived by Argus Ranieri, for three days (September 15-17) at Parque Tecnológico de São José dos Campos, has united companies of various areas such as health, technology, agrobusiness, finance, automotive, transport/logistic, aviation, defense and security, education, training and also international authorities from Israel and Norway, among others.
On Sunday, September 15th, IBLF has started with the acknowledgment of 22 cases as “Outstanding Innovative Company 2019” by Unesp Innovation Agency and Fundação Dom Cabral after a deep analysis. It was a celebration night to confirm companies’ power to innovate in sustainability, technology, mobility, energy, product and process management. The 22 companies, acknowledged by excellence in innovation, were awarded by the North American Innermetrix companies, reference in strategic people management.
On September 16th and 17th, conversations on the theme were heard all over the panels, auditorium, booths, support rooms, coffee breaks, lunch area and corridors. Participants have built an environment of cooperation, interaction, connection, and a valuable exchange of ideas about what innovation exactly is.
Innovating means to look to the future. Innovating is to adapt to constant changes. Innovating is to share knowledge. Innovating is to think in group. Innovating is, above all, motivated and interested people acting for a purpose, integrated to the companies’ goals.
Norway’s attention to the event was also devoted to the occasion. Mainly with the participation of Brazil-Norway Chamber of Commerce - BNCC- and the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Parque Tecnológico, which foresees the internationalization of companies related to and established in São José dos Campos, the Brazilian “technological city”. The agreement was signed during the event and has the purpose to enable the establishment of Brazilian companies in Norway and vice-versa, within the science, technology and innovation environment. In practice, capacitation programs, networking and presentations will be promoted. “Companies linked to and established in the Parque Tecnológico have a shortcut to Norway. This is
the great goal, so they can operate in other markets, not only in Brazil”, stated Elso Alberti Junior, Parque Tecnológico’s New Business Director.
Aage Thoen, BNCC President has confirmed that Parque Tecnológico is strategic in this partnership because of the established and linked companies’ profiles. “This is an important tool to strengthen commercial relations, mainly the cultural and scientific ones which we intend to expand to industries. Parque Tecnológico is very important in this sense due to the existent innovation and we want to get closer to those industries here in São José dos Campos”, he stated. Nowadays, over 300 companies are linked to Parque Tecnológico in an endless partnership between the parties.
Look to the future
Human being’s future depends on innovation. People who got together at Parque Tecnológico invest on the quest for better energetic efficiency in order to promote a sustainable environment for the next generations. They are aware of the challenges that megacities have brought and of the urgent need to unite companies, government, scientific communities, universities, among other members of society, so they can find, together, solutions to reduce gas emissions; to look to the whole process and to work in partnerships with all the productive chain; to promote more mobility; to disseminate knowledge in an efficient way, among other challenges.
Many of the participants are convinced that solutions will come from artificial intelligence, from a more accurate analysis of information, from drones and autonomous vehicles operation, and from energetic efficiency management, among many other issues that technology and science, together, are able to promote.
All participants have concluded that all these themes make sense only if organizations know how to identify, recognize, deal with, train and motivate the main innovation agent: the human being. “Nothing is more innovative than the human being”, Leila Nascimento, Capacitare CEO, has summarized her participation in the panel. Her voice was heard and applauded by all the audience. She added: “Human being speeds up the world. We need to keep humanity in this relation”.
The event’s great goal was achieved and this was just the beginning. Promoting an environment of cooperation, of free debate of ideas and of the strategic business vision enhancement is the main mission of Innovation who intends to renew itself year by year.
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Read more about this visit to São José Campos at NBCC article.
BNCC was invited to meet the young Environmental Engineering student from Brazil that is representing the country in the Young Sustainable Impact Innovation (YSI) Program 2019.
YSI is a global non-profit organization that brings together young talents from all over the world. They are creating and implementing actual solutions to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations through entrepreneurship. YSI has gained global attention with over 12.500 applications from over 178 nations for this year´s Global Innovation Program. The top 27 were selected, and Lucas Kehl from Brazil is one of them.
The young professionals selected are in Oslo to finalize and pitch their solutions to potential investors. The Innovation Program has been ongoing online since March 18th, and BNCC met Lucas Kehl in the opening ceremony on August 12th in Oslo. Lucas’ team is focusing on water and has created a global map showing where people encounter water problems and the solutions that NGOs and businesses offer. Anyone can go to mapforwater.com and sign up at the bottom of the page to follow all Startup updates and developments. Be part of the new water community!
BNCC support any initiative that brings innovations and new solutions to a more global and sustainable world. Moreover, congratulates Lucas and all the other participants of the program with their efforts, wishing success in their mission.
The yong team will pitch their startups in an event in Oslo on August 23rd. You can register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ysi-global-demo-day-2308-closed-door-invite-only-tickets-67714222061.
Lucas Kehl, representative of Brazil, presenting his ideas to our Executive Director, Larissa Slottet.
Lucas and his partner Taha Sajid, and the logo of the start-up idealised by them.
Pictures of: Alexandra Pálóczi