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European Free Trade Association (E.F.T.A.)

This was formed in 1959 by the Stockholm Treaty as an alternative to the Common Market but with more limited aims. The emphasis was to be on eliminating tariff barriers between members but not, as with the Common Market, presenting a common tariff to the outside world. It had other aims, such as improvements in both productivity and standards of living; these were sought through the friendly exchange of ideas rather than by the enactment of laws. It comprised various European countries which each opted not to join the E.E.C. and it operated on a low-key formula of mutual cooperation. From the start of 1980´s most of the tariff barriers between E.F.T.A. countries and E.E.C. members had been eradicated – at least where industrial products were concerned. Policing was necessary in order to prevent abuse of free trade agreements by outsiders, e.g. the importation of goods from the Far East into a high tariff nation through a low tariff one this could arise as the member countries did not have a common external tariff. To provide against such misuse certificates of origin had to accompany imported goods.

Reference: The Penguin Business Dictionary, 3rd edt.