iðnaðar- og viðskiptaráðherra
27. nóvember 2000
Your Excellency President Zedillo, Ministers, Secretary General, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is a great honour, for me to be present here on behalf of Iceland as the EFTA Chairmanship, when the important Free Trade Agreement between the EFTA States and Mexico is signed. This agreement marks an important landmark in the economic relations between Mexico and the EFTA States, and will realise the potential these relations entail.
Iceland has advocated and worked for closer economic and trade ties with Mexico on a number of occasions in recent years. In this regard, I allow myself to recall the fruitful discussion the President of Icelan had with you, Mr. President, here in Mexico in the spring of 1998. I should also recall the visit of the Prime Minister of Iceland, to Mexico last year, when our economic and trade relations were highly placed on the agenda.
As you all know, the negotiations on our Free Trade Agreemtnt started very recently, and were concluded within five months, which has to be a new record in negotiations of this nature. On behalf of the EFTA states, I would like to thank all concerned for their outstanding work, in concluding this agreement. A major contribution to this achievement is, in my opinion, the commonly shared principles and values of our respective countries in free trade relations. Another key factor, to this success, is also the tremendous efforts, and the competence of our negotiatiors. Allow me to specifically commend the very good work demonstrated by the Mexican Chief negotiator, Mr.Fernando de Mateo, and his team. The spirit of co-operation the Mexican Delegation approached these negotiations, is to be applauded.
Our Agreement is the first Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement the EFTA States have signed. However, it is not only symbolic, but of great importance for obvious political and ecconomic reasons. It strengthens our good trade relations, and provides for new and important opportunities, and challenges for our business communities. Futhermore, it consolidates our common democratic values, and underlines our commitment for sustainable development. I am confident that our Agreement will therefore, further foster the good and warm relations between or respective countries.
Being a farmer. I would like to conclude by quoting a poem from the "Sayings of the vikings" that is close to my heart:
A bad friend
is far away
though his cottage is close.
To a true friend
lies a trodden road
though his farm lies far away
It is my convicion, that this agreement we are signing here today, is the trodden road, though our farms lie far away.