Following agreement in principle last month, the United Kingdom has moved quickly to sign a free trade deal with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, locking in tariff-free trade and securing greater access for United Kingdom firms.
Ministers from the three countries came to London on Thursday 8th July to sign the agreement with United Kingdom Minister for International Trade Ranil Jayawardena.
It is the most advanced trade deal that Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein have ever signed, with gold standard provisions in digital trade, mobile roaming, and business travel. It will slash tariffs and offer new duty-free quotas on exports of high-quality British food and farm products and support jobs in every corner of our country. The agreement maintains existing access to duty-free quotas for key British exports like cheese, while offering tariff reductions and quotas on pork, poultry and other goods. The agreement also recognises the protected status of certain United Kingdom wines and spirits, meaning consumers in Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein can continue to enjoy our iconic products, like Scotch Whisky, with the confidence they are high quality and the real deal.
The fish processing sector, retail and consumers will benefit from cheaper imports of prawns, shrimp and white fish.
The agreement strongly supports the UK’s ambitions as a global leader on climate and environmental protection. It preserves the UK’s right to regulate to reach our Net Zero target, promotes trade and investment to grow the low carbon economy, and addresses numerous issues related to environmental protection, including biodiversity, forestry and sustainable fisheries.
And the deal’s cutting-edge digital provisions mean we’re slashing red tape, making it easier than ever for our businesses to export across borders. Electronic documents, contracts and signatures will result in less paperwork, saving British firms time and money.
International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said: "Today’s deal signing is a landmark moment for trade between the UK, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. It will support jobs, cut red tape, and open up more opportunities for the UK. I urge businesses across the country, from farmers to fintech, to seize the fantastic opportunities this deal presents."
International Trade Minister Ranil Jayawardena said: "Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein have gone further with us than any other FTA partner, including new cutting-edge digital provisions to enable slicker trade across our borders. I look forward to seeing businesses in every corner of the United Kingdom take advantage of streamlined trade, banished barriers and policy that backs jobs and growth."
Norway’s Minister of Trade and Industry Iselin Nybø said: "The UK market is of great importance to Norway. Today marks an important step in our future relationship with the United Kingdom. I am proud that we have concluded an ambitious and comprehensive free trade agreement, which will provide predictability and opportunities for our businesses, investors, students and workers in the years to come."
Iceland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development Cooperation Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson said: "The Free Trade Agreement between the United Kingdom and Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein we have signed today marks a new beginning in the relationship between our countries. I am very pleased with the outcome as I am convinced that this agreement will boost our economic relations and strengthen the ties between the nations even further. This signing is historic in every sense of the word."
Liechtenstein’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Education and Sport Dominique Hasler said: "Services and investment activities are a key component of our trade relations with the UK. I am convinced that the state-of-the-art provisions of this agreement will allow them to thrive."
Innovative FinTech firms will be able to provide financial services into Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, without having to provide that service elsewhere first, helping the United Kingdom to maintain its status as a financial services hub.
The deal maintains existing access to duty free quotas for key British exports like cheese and will cut tariffs as high as 277% for exporters to Norway of West Country Farmhouse Cheddar, Orkney Scottish Island Cheddar, Traditional Welsh Caerphilly, and Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese.
Lower import tariffs on shrimps, prawns and white fish could reduce costs for the United Kingdom fish processing sector, which accounted for around 18,000 jobs in 2020, mainly in areas like Scotland, East Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire. UK households will continue to benefit from excellent choice and low prices in supermarkets, fishmongers and in fish and chip shops throughout the country.
‘Made Great in Grimsby’ representative Simon Dwyer, of the Grimsby Fish Merchants Association said: "Grimsby is the home to one of the largest seafood processing and trading clusters in the northern hemisphere, employing 6,000 people. The fresh seafood we import from Iceland and Norway goes in our retailers, food services, mobile fishmongers and the nation’s fabulous fish and chip shops. Anything to strengthen these trading relationships can only be good for Grimsby."
Jonathan Geldart, Director General of the Institute of Directors (IoD), said: "This free trade agreement delivers the reassurances business leaders require to trade with these European markets. The IoD has long championed the need for continuity and cooperation following Brexit. This deal will help to deliver that stability, as well as liberalise trade in areas like digital and services."
Under the deal it will be possible to cap the charges mobile operators are allowed to charge each other for international mobile roaming, a world-first in an FTA, keeping costs low for holiday makers and business travellers in Norway and Iceland.
The deal delivers the most comprehensive mobility commitments in any British FTA to date. It allows high-skilled professionals to enter Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein for business purposes, ensures that visas are processed within a maximum of 90 days and includes professional qualification recognition – so nurses, lawyers, vets and other professionals will have a clear route to apply to have their qualification recognised to work in the partner countries.
This signing marks a new closer alliance between the UK, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, which will see our like-minded democracies work together to promote prosperity and champion free trade.