Fish and cheese: UK signs trade agreements with Norway and Iceland

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Britain has struck post-Brexit trade deals with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein as it seeks to forge new global trade ties after leaving the European Union.

The three countries, which are part of the European Economic Area allowing them access to the single market, have relied on temporary trade agreements with Britain since the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31. read more

Under the agreement with Norway, import duties on Norwegian fish and seafood, its second largest industry after oil and gas production, would be reduced, with no tariffs on white fish, like cod – a benefit to the fish processing industry in the north of England.

Britain will be able to export four cheeses to Norway, including Wensleydale and West Country Farmhouse Cheddar, with lower tariff payments than Norway normally imposes on foreign cheeses, which can be as high as 277%. The parties did not specify by how much the tariffs would be lower.

“We gave in on the cheese, but we have a little more on the fish,” Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said at a press conference.

Trade between Britain and Norway was worth £ 20.4 billion ($ 28.81 billion) last year, making it Britain’s 13th largest trading partner. Great Britain is Norway’s largest trading partner, mainly through gas exports, and its third largest buyer of fish and seafood.

Exports amounted to 8.1 billion pounds and imports 12.3 billion. The main UK goods exports were ships, petroleum and airplanes, while the main imports were petroleum, gas, metals, fish and seafood.

“Today’s agreement will give a boost to our trade with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein,” British International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said in a statement.

Total trade between Iceland and Britain was € 651m (£ 558m) in 2020, with Iceland exporting fish, mutton and skyr, an Icelandic yogurt.

“A new free trade agreement with Britain … will be crucial for Icelandic businesses and consumers,” Icelandic Foreign Minister Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson said in a statement.

The main goal of Britain’s post-Brexit trade policy has been to pivot its economic center away from Europe to the rapidly growing economies of the Asia-Pacific region.

It is expected to strike a deal with Australia later this month and is looking to join a trans-Pacific trade pact. Read more

($ 1 = 0.7084 pounds)

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