The United Kingdom has announced a new post-Brexit trade deal with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, boosting a relationship already worth £21.6 billion (€25.17 billion).
The agreement includes the digital and farming sectors and will boost the economy and support jobs, the British government said in a news release.
UK International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said the deal is a “major boost for trade” with the three other nations. It is said to be the most advanced the trio have done to date, with dedicated chapters on the digital trade and small businesses.
After months of difficult talks, the comprehensive trade deal was hailed by both the UK and Norwegian governments as being pioneering in its scope and measures, with tariff-free trade in industrial goods secured.
British firms exporting to Norway and Iceland will crucially be able to rely on state-of-the-art electronic documentation to facilitate the onerous customs procedures made necessary by the UK’s exit from the EU.
Access to Britain’s rich fishing waters was a major sticking point in post-Brexit talks, with the new pact helping to reduce import tariffs on fish.
“Reduced import tariffs on shrimp, prawns and haddock will reduce costs for UK fish processing, helping support some 18,000 jobs in that industry in Scotland and northern England,” Friday’s statement said.
Britain is Norway’s top trading partner outside the EU while Norway is Britain’s 13th largest trading partner, with the deal cutting tariffs as much as 277 per cent on British cheese exports to the country such as Orkney Scottish Island Cheddar, Traditional Welsh Caerphilly and Yorkshire Wensleydale.
Tariff reductions and quotas on meat and other goods such as Scotch whisky will be recognised in Norway and Iceland, while exports to the three non-EU countries will be done without paperwork.
“All documents, contracts and signatures can be electronic, allowing goods to move seamlessly across borders and saving businesses time and money,” the statement said.
A cutting-edge digital provisions mean when British firms export to Norway and Iceland, they will be able to benefit from commitments that limit unnecessary paperwork. Electronic documents, contracts and signatures will allow goods to move seamlessly across borders, saving businesses time and money.
Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg told a news conference in Oslo that her nation and Britain would benefit from a deal that “allows for growth in trade for both our countries”.
Norway’s government, meanwhile, celebrated securing the same trading relationship in goods with the UK as the EU under its trade and cooperation agreement and that there will be zero duty on frozen peeled shrimp from 1 January 2023, a key export.
“The agreement entails a continuation of all previous tariff preferences for seafood and improved market access for whitefish, shrimp and several other products,” said Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen, Norway’s fisheries minister. “For the shrimp industry on Senja and the land industry in northern Norway, this will be of great importance.”
The arrangement will also allow for caps on the fees mobile operators are allowed to charge each other for international data roaming, a world-first in a free-trade agreement, keeping costs low for holidaymakers and business travellers.
Sue Davies, head of consumer protection and food policy at Which?, said it was positive to see measures on mobile roaming included in the deal.
“The government should look to build on this by including mobile roaming agreements in future trade deals and securing similar terms with the EU and other countries to prevent holidaymakers and other travellers from facing eye-watering phone bills after a trip abroad,” said Ms Davies.
The deal makes it easier for highly skilled workers to enter Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein for business purposes, with faster and simpler visa processes and professional qualifications recognised to ensure professionals such as nurses, lawyers and vets do not have to retrain to work in partner countries.
“A new free-trade agreement with Britain has been a priority during my term as minister and will be crucial for both Icelandic companies and consumers,” Iceland’s Foreign Minister Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson said.
The deal comes as talks began this week on Britain joining the vast transPacific trade pact.
Britain applied in February to join the 11-nation deal, signed in 2018 by countries including Japan, Canada, Mexico, Vietnam and Australia.
Since the start of 2021 and the expiry of the Brexit transition period, the UK has been freed from EU rules and able to implement its own trade deals with other countries.
The British government has been working to “roll over” dozens of EU trade deals with third countries which no longer apply to the UK — through the accord just struck with the EEA nations is a new one.
The UK is also in advanced trade deal discussions with Australia and has held early talks with India, New Zealand and the US.