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«INTERIM AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE EFTA STATES AND THE PALESTINE LIBERATION ORGANIZATION FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY The following text ...»

-- [ Page 1 ] --

INTERIM AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE EFTA STATES AND

THE PALESTINE LIBERATION ORGANIZATION FOR THE

BENEFIT OF THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY

The following text reproduces the Interim Agreement between the EFTA States and the PLO for

the Benefit of the Palestinian Authority.1

_______________

PREAMBLE

The Republic of Iceland, the Principality of Liechtenstein, the Kingdom of Norway, the Swiss Confederation (hereinafter referred to as the EFTA States) and the PLO for the benefit of the Palestinian Authority (hereinafter referred to as the Palestinian Authority), Considering the importance of the links existing between the EFTA States and the Palestinian Authority, in particular the Declaration signed in Geneva in December 1996, and recognising the common wish to strengthen these links, thus establishing close and lasting relations, Recalling their intention to participate actively in the process of economic integration in the EuroMediterranean region, and expressing their preparedness to co-operate in seeking ways and means to strengthen this process, Reaffirming their commitment to pluralistic democracy based on the rule of law, human rights, including rights of persons belonging to minorities, and fundamental freedoms, and recalling the principles of the United Nations Charter, Considering the importance of the Middle East peace process leading to a permanent settlement based on Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, Considering the rights and obligations under the international agreements which they have signed and the importance of the Oslo agreements, Desiring to create favourable conditions for the development and diversification of trade between them and for the promotion of commercial and economic co-operation in areas of common interest on the basis of equality, mutual benefit, non-discrimination and international law, Recalling the membership of the EFTA States in the World Trade Organization (WTO) and their commitment to comply with the rights and obligations arising from the Agreement establishing the WTO, including the principles of most-favoured-nation and of national treatment, and also recalling the objective of the Palestinian Authority of becoming a Member of the WTO, Resolved to contribute to the strengthening of the multilateral trading system and to develop their relations towards free trade in compliance with WTO rules, Considering that no provision of this Agreement may be interpreted as exempting the Parties to this Agreement from their obligations under other international agreements, The Annexes and Protocols thereto have been submitted to the Secretariat for consultation by interested Members (Office 3006).

Page 2 Determined to implement this Agreement with the objective to preserve and protect the environment and to ensure an optimal use of natural resources in accordance with the principle of sustainable development, Firmly convinced that this Agreement will contribute to the creation of an enlarged and harmonious free-trade area between European and Mediterranean partners, thus constituting an important contribution to Euro-Mediterranean integration, Considering the difference in economic and social development existing between the Parties and the need to intensify existing efforts to promote economic and social development in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Declaring their readiness to examine the possibility of developing and deepening their economic relations in order to extend them to fields not covered by this Agreement, in accordance with their respective powers, Convinced that this Agreement provides an appropriate framework for exchange of information and views on economic developments and trade as well as related matters, Convinced that this Agreement will create favourable conditions to strengthen both bilateral and multilateral relations between the Parties in the economic field, in particular concerning trade and investment, Recognising that this Agreement and its implementation should be reviewed in light of further developments in international economic relations and the Middle East peace process.

Have decided, in pursuit of the above, to conclude the following interim Agreement (hereinafter

called this Agreement):

Article 1 Objectives

1. The EFTA States and the Palestinian Authority shall establish a free trade area, in accordance with the provisions of this Agreement.

2. The objectives of this Agreement, which is based on trade relations between market economies

and on the respect of democratic principles and human rights, are:

(a) to promote, through the expansion of reciprocal trade, the harmonious development of the economic relations between the EFTA States and the Palestinian Authority and thus to foster in the EFTA States and in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip the advance of economic activity, the improvement of living and employment conditions, and increased productivity and financial stability;

(b) to provide fair conditions of competition for trade between the Parties to this Agreement and to facilitate trade between the constituent territories and not to raise barriers to the trade of other trading partners with them;

(c) to contribute in this way, by the removal of barriers to trade, to Euro-Mediterranean economic integration and to the harmonious development and expansion of world trade.





Article 2 Page 3 Scope

This Agreement shall apply:

(a) to products falling within Chapters 25 to 97 of the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS), excluding the products listed in Annex I;

(b) to products specified in Protocol A, with due regard to the arrangements provided for in that Protocol;

(c) to fish and other marine products as provided for in Annex II;

originating in an EFTA State or in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Article 3 Rules of origin and co-operation in customs administration

1. Protocol B lays down the rules of origin and methods of administrative co-operation.

2. The Parties to this Agreement shall take appropriate measures, including reviews by the Joint Committee and arrangements for administrative co-operation, to ensure that the provisions of Articles 4 (Customs duties on imports and charges having equivalent effect), 5 (Customs duties of a fiscal nature), 6 (Customs duties on exports and charges having equivalent effect), 7 (Quantitative restrictions on imports or exports and measures having equivalent effect), 12 (Internal taxation and regulations) and 21 (Re-export and serious shortage) of this Agreement and Protocol B are effectively and harmoniously applied, and to reduce, as far as possible, the formalities imposed on trade, and to achieve mutually satisfactory solutions to any difficulties arising from the operation of those provisions.

3. On the basis of the reviews referred to in paragraph 2, the Parties to this Agreement shall decide on the appropriate measures to be taken.

Article 4 Customs duties on imports and charges having equivalent effect

1. No new customs duty on imports or charge having equivalent effect shall be introduced in trade between the EFTA States and the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

2. The EFTA States and the Palestinian Authority shall abolish on the date of entry into force of this Agreement all customs duties on imports and any charges having equivalent effect on products originating in an EFTA State or the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Article 5 Customs duties of a fiscal nature The provisions of Article 4 (Customs duties on imports and charges having equivalent effect) shall also apply to customs duties of a fiscal nature.

Article 6 Customs duties on exports and charges having equivalent effect Page 4

1. No new customs duty on exports or charge having equivalent effect shall be introduced in trade between the EFTA States and the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

2. The EFTA States and the Palestinian Authority shall abolish on the date of entry into force of this Agreement all customs duties on exports and any charges having equivalent effect on products originating in an EFTA State or the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Article 7 Quantitative restrictions on imports or exports and measures having equivalent effect

1. No new quantitative restriction on imports or exports and measures having equivalent effect shall be introduced in trade between the EFTA States and the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

2. The EFTA States and the Palestinian Authority shall abolish on the date of entry into force of this Agreement quantitative restrictions on imports or exports and measures having equivalent effect.

Article 8 General exceptions This Agreement shall not preclude prohibitions or restrictions on imports, exports or goods in transit justified on grounds of public morality, public policy or public security; the protection of health and life of humans, animals or plants and the environment; the protection of national treasures possessing artistic, historic or archaeological value; the protection of intellectual property; rules relating to gold or silver; or the conservation of exhaustible natural resources, if such measures are made effective in conjunction with restrictions on domestic production or consumption. Such prohibitions or restrictions shall not, however, constitute a means of arbitrary discrimination or a disguised restriction on trade between the Parties to this Agreement.

Article 9 State monopolies

1. The EFTA States shall ensure that any state monopoly of a commercial character be adjusted, with the exceptions laid down in Protocol C, so that no discrimination regarding the conditions under which goods are procured and marketed will exist between nationals of the EFTA States and the Palestinian people of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. These goods shall be procured and marketed in accordance with commercial considerations.

2. The Palestinian Authority will progressively adjust any state monopoly of a commercial character so that at the latest by the end of 31 December 2001, no discrimination regarding the conditions under which goods are procured and marketed will exist between the Palestinian people of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and the nationals of the EFTA States. The Joint Committee will be informed of the measures adopted to implement these objectives.

3. The provisions of this Article shall apply to any body through which the competent authorities of the Parties to this Agreement, in law or in fact, either directly or indirectly supervise, determine or appreciably influence imports or exports between the Parties to this Agreement.

These provisions shall likewise apply to monopolies delegated to other bodies.

Article 10 Technical regulations Page 5 The Parties to this Agreement shall, within the framework of the Joint Committee, discuss closer co-operation on matters related to removing technical barriers to trade. This co-operation shall take place in fields related to technical regulations, standardisation as well as conformity assessment.

Article 11 Trade in agricultural products

1. The Parties to this Agreement declare their readiness to foster, in so far as their agricultural policies allow, harmonious development of trade in agricultural products.

2. In pursuance of this objective each individual EFTA State and the Palestinian Authority concluded a bilateral arrangement providing for measures to facilitate trade in agricultural products.

3. The Parties to this Agreement shall apply their regulations in sanitary and phytosanitary matters in a non-discriminatory fashion and shall not introduce any new measures that have the effect of unduly obstructing trade.

Article 12 Internal taxation and regulations

1. The Parties to this Agreement shall apply any internal taxes and other charges and regulations in accordance with Article III of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 and other relevant WTO Agreements.

2. Exporters may not benefit from repayment of internal taxation in excess of the amount of direct or indirect taxation imposed on products exported to the territory of one of the Parties to this Agreement.

Article 13 Payments and transfers

1. Payments relating to trade between an EFTA State and the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and the transfer of such payments to the territory of the Party to this Agreement where the creditor resides, shall be free from any restrictions.

2. The Parties to this Agreement shall refrain from any currency exchange or administrative restrictions on the grant, repayment or acceptance of short and medium-term credits covering commercial transactions in which a resident participates.

3. No restrictive measures shall apply to transfers related to investments and in particular to the repatriation of amounts invested or reinvested and of any kind of revenues stemming therefrom.

Article 14 Public procurement

1. The Parties to this Agreement consider the effective liberalization of their respective public procurement markets, on the basis of non-discrimination and reciprocity, as an integral objective of this Agreement.

2. To this effect, the Parties shall co-operate within the framework of the Joint Committee.

Page 6 Article 15 Protection of intellectual property

1. The Parties shall grant and ensure adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights in accordance with the highest international standards. They shall adopt and take adequate and effective measures for the enforcement of such rights against infringement thereof, in particular against counterfeiting and piracy.

2. The Parties shall co-operate in matters of intellectual property in accordance with Article 26 (Technical assistance) of this Agreement.

3. The implementation of this Article shall be regularly reviewed by the Parties. If problems which affect trade arise in connection with intellectual property rights, urgent consultations shall be undertaken within the framework of the Joint Committee, at the request of any Party, with a view to reaching mutually satisfactory solutions.

Article 16 Rules of competition concerning undertakings

1. The following are incompatible with the proper functioning of this Agreement in so far as they



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