The coronavirus crisis has made free trade even more important: that was the message of ministers from the EFTA Member States at a recent digital conference. They plan to press ahead with expanding the EFTA free trade network.

On Tuesday, ministers from the EFTA Member States of Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland met for a digital conference. An EFTA press release states that discussions focused on current free trade negotiations, such as those between EFTA and India, Malaysia and Vietnam. The EFTA Member States emphasized their intention to continue these negotiations, according to a press release from the Liechtenstein government. They also agreed to start negotiations with Pakistan, Kosovo and Moldova, and are planning to restart discussions with Thailand soon. 
The participants stressed that in view of the coronavirus pandemic and associated economic slump, an open and rules-based international trade system is vital in order to boost economic recovery and safeguard supply chains. 
The ministers also welcomed progress in drafting model chapters on sustainable development and digital trade. These will be put forward when negotiating new free trade agreements with partners or revising existing agreements. 

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