Last year, the UK`s trade with Iceland and Norway amounted to $27 billion, including more than $20 billion in goods. If no agreement is reached with the EU by the end of the year, when the transition period ends, Britain will not violate World Trade Organization (WTO) rules. These rules, including high tariffs, would have caused serious headaches for trade between the UK and Norway. Negotiations for a free trade agreement are underway and the parties are working to conclude negotiations as soon as possible. However, much remains to be done before a free trade agreement comes into force. Norway and the United Kingdom have recognised that it would not be possible to conclude an agreement that could come into force on 1 January 2021 and have therefore agreed to conclude a temporary regime for trade in goods. Do you know if the temporary trade agreement contained provisions relating to the free movement of persons from January until the conclusion of the trade agreement itself? I come from the UK and am currently staying in Norway with my friend, but I am not yet registered/busy here because my Norwegian is far from being good enough right now! Norwegian officials also quickly indicated that the agreement was time-limited and is expected to last only a few months before a free trade agreement is reached. “It is important to ensure that trade in goods between Norway and the United Kingdom can continue after 1 January under the same conditions as today. This temporary agreement will protect our interests as we continue our negotiations for a free trade agreement as soon as possible.
After the EU, the UK is our largest trading partner and our two countries agree on the need to maintain close and comprehensive cooperation,” said Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Seride. The fixed-term agreement will be based on the agreement signed in April 2019 by Norway and the UNITED Kingdom, which guarantees continuity of trade in the event of the UK leaving the EU without a deal. The agreement ensures that UK businesses will continue to enjoy duty-free access to all industrial exports. In addition, British consumers can continue to enjoy popular Icelandic and Norwegian products such as frozen haddock. More than 30% of UK imports of fish fillets last year came from Iceland, many of which are used in British fishmongers and chips. With Britain looking set for a Brexit without a deal, the Norwegian government has signed a temporary agreement to ensure continued trade. Today`s agreement blocks duty-free trade for businesses worth more than $20 billion between our countries and supports jobs and livelihoods across Britain and beyond. If the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 31 December, it will affect trade in goods for Norway.
There are still some aspects of merchandise trade that have not yet been fully clarified. Below, we briefly outlined some effects on the trade in goods that are known. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Trade and Fisheries indicated that a free trade agreement could not completely replace the EEA agreement. Industry must prepare for new trade barriers when the UK leaves the EU and the internal market. The interim trade agreement comes just weeks after a fisheries agreement was reached between Norway and the UK. Fishing rights are a very complex area and one of the main stumbling blocks in the discussions between Britain and the EU. I look forward to concluding with our long-standing partners, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, a comprehensive trade agreement on goods and services, which is expected to come into force in 2021 and that respects our common commitment to free and fair trade. The Minister of Trade and Industry stresses that time is running out for the negotiation of a free trade agreement, but that we have a common goal of signing a comprehensive and ambitious agreement and putting it in place