The UK agreed in principle on Friday a new trade deal with Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland in what has been hailed as the “most advanced” deal the three countries have agreed to date.
Talks were understood to have been close and an announcement was widely expected within the next few days, however it now appears the deal has been clinched which includes a more comprehensive agreement than the deal Britain had with the nations as a member of the European Union.
Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein are members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), which also includes Switzerland. They are however not member states of the European Union and remain outside of the EU customs union meaning they can negotiate their own free trade deals.
In a press release, the Department for International Trade confirmed the deal will considerably cut tariffs for exporters of UK wines and spirits, cheese and meats, whilst North Sea seafood imported from Iceland and Norway will see reduced tariffs.
“Cutting-edge digital provisions mean when British firms export to the three countries, they will be able to do so without a single piece of paperwork. All documents, contracts and signatures can be electronic, allowing goods to move seamlessly across borders and saving businesses time and money,” the press release read.
“The agreement significantly cuts 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. There are also tariff reductions and quotas on pork, poultry and other goods. UK wines and spirits including Scotch Whisky will also now be recognised in Norway and Iceland.
“Reduced import tariffs on shrimps, prawns and haddock will reduce costs for UK fish processing, helping support some 18,000 jobs in that industry in Scotland, East Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire.”
International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said: “Today’s deal will be a major boost for our trade with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, growing an economic relationship already worth £21.6 billion, while supporting jobs and prosperity in all four nations at home.
International Trade Minister, Ranil Jayawardena said the deal shows that the UK “will continue to be a trade partner of choice, as we set the global trade agenda in areas like e-commerce and climate change.
“More trade and more investment will drive growth and support jobs in every corner of our country,” he added.
In addition to trade benefits, the agreement will ensure caps on mobile charges “keeping costs low for holiday makers and business travellers”. Additionally, “faster and simply visa processes” will ensure high-skilled professionals can enter the three nations more easily to conduct business, and new professional qualification recognition will mean high-skilled professionals will not need to requalify if they wish to migrate and work in the partner countries.