In Europe, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) is a free trade zone and an organization for international commercial exchange and cooperation. Nations that didn’t want to be part of the European Union had an alternative trade document created in 1960.
EFTA nations can engage in trade agreements with other countries outside the EFTA bloc. However, there is a unified approach to international commerce.
The European Union and other countries have signed free trade deals with the United States. EFTA was formed with the participation of seven countries at its beginning. There were seven original members: Austria, Denmark, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
However, some of these countries have subsequently left EFTA and joined the EU. In 1973, Denmark and the United Kingdom were the first countries to quit. Next to go in 1986 was Portugal. Austria was the last country to leave the EU in 1995.
When Finland joined EFTA in the 1980s, however, in 1995, it was shut down. It is estimated that only Switzerland & Norway remain the original founding states. Iceland and Liechtenstein joined in the 1970s and 1991 to bring the total to three.