IN Stockholm Nov. 20, Ministers of the 'Outer Seven' - Austria, Britain, Denmark, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and Switzerland -initialled the convention of the European Free Trade Association, after agreement had been reached on a last unsettled problem-the frozen fish question.
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Background: IN Stockholm Nov. 20, Ministers of the 'Outer Seven' - Austria, Britain, Denmark, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and Switzerland -initialled the convention of the European Free Trade Association, after agreement had been reached on a last unsettled problem-the frozen fish question.
In substance, the convention follows the official draft prepared beforehand. The most important provision of the agreement on fish is that frozen fish fillets will be regarded as industrial products, at least for the first ten years of the E.F.T.A. Britain, however, retains the right to have the question reconsidered at any time if it appears that imports of these fillets into the United Kingdom from Scandinavia as a whole are likely to exceed 24,000 tons a year. In default of a multilateral agreement, Britain may reverse any tariff cuts which have previously been introduced in accordance with the E.F.T.A. convention.
Moreover, Britain reserves the right to reconsider her decision tp treat frozen fish fillets as industrial products if there is any change in competitive conditions in the industry. The United Kingdom would regard an increase in Scandinavian, and especially in Norwegian fishing limits as such a change.
A bilateral agreement has also been reached between Britain and Switzerland on watches and clocks. Britain has agreed to treat such goods valued at GBP5 or more as ordinary industrial products under the convention, and to liberalise the import quotas on cheaper watches and clocks by about 5% a year.
The ministerial meeting in Stockholm has insisted that the E.F.T.A. is only a first step towards the aim of forming a wider free trade area. A special resolution was passed Nov 20, reaffirming the aim of the Seven to promote closer economic cooperation of the OEEC members, including the members of the European Economic community.
The Ministers have also been informed of Finland's intention to participate to some extent in the E.F.T.A., and the heads of the delegations have been instructed to be prepared for preliminary talks as soon as the Finns are ready.