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Consider a country that is a member of the EEA (but not the EU) and also the EFTA. If the EU negotiates a zero tariff free trade deal with Costa Rica, say, do EEA/EFTA counties also benefit from this deal?

  • “A member of the EEA and hence the EFTA” doesn’t make sense. Of the 31 EEA states, only 3 are also EFTA members; additionally, there is Switzerland, which is a member of EFTA but not EEA. You should clarify your question. – chirlu Dec 5 '18 at 13:32
  • @chirlu I took this line of reasoning from efta.int/faq and the question "Is it possible to become a party to the EEA Agreement without being a member of the EU or EFTA?" – Anush Dec 5 '18 at 13:38
  • OK, “non-EU EEA” is a meaningful term (and then also implies EFTA). – chirlu Dec 5 '18 at 13:50
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No, the non-EU countries won’t be able to trade under the new trade agreement, because it will (typically) only apply to goods originating in the EU or Costa Rica. The agreement will also specify rules of origin to define what counts as “originating in the EU”.

Indirectly, of course, they may still benefit from the agreement in that it bolsters the economy in some of their most important partners (the EU members).

  • I find this a little confusing. Can a business in a non-EU EEA country set up a subsidiary in the EU which then just forwards goods on to themselves, taking advantage of the free trade between their country and the EU? – Anush Dec 5 '18 at 14:35
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    @Anush: No. Most rules of origin require a “substantial transformation” for the origin to change. Norwegian goods that are simply forwarded to Costa Rica via the Netherlands are still Norwegian, not Dutch. – chirlu Dec 5 '18 at 15:22
  • Interesting. Is that the same the other way round. That is Costa Rican goods that are delivered to the Netherlands but forwarded to Norway? – Anush Dec 5 '18 at 16:44
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    @Anush: Yes, Norwegian customs will collect the duties that apply for imports from Costa Rica in that case. – chirlu Dec 5 '18 at 16:57

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