Since December 1, the Norwegian business community has been able to take advantage of the free trade agreement between Norway and the United Kingdom reached by the two countries last summer. This helps trade, value chains and competitiveness to continue after Brexit, and is opening the way for Oslo to increase salmon and other seafood exports to the British market.
“This is good and long-awaited news for Norwegian companies and workplaces. The conditions are now in place for trade with one of our most important trading partners to continue to grow”, said Minister of Trade and Industry Jan Christian Vestre.
Second most comprehensive free trade agreement in history
The UK is Norway’s second largest single market after the EU. In 2020 alone, Norwegian companies exported goods worth almost NOK 135 billion to the UK, while imports amounted to about 42,000.
“Trade, investment and business cooperation with the UK contribute to increased value creation, employment and innovation in Norway,” Vestre assured.
Norwegian industrial companies will continue to be exempt from customs duties, so Norwegian exporters will not face more cumbersome customs procedures in the UK than EU competitors. It will also be easier to obtain customs exemption when exporting to the UK.
Customs preferences for important seafood products
The free trade agreement ensures the continuation of all tariff preferences for seafood products that Norway had while the UK was a member of the EU. In addition, the agreement involves improvements for certain important products, such as duty-free treatment for frozen peeled shrimp from 2023.
“We now secure the necessary predictability in seafood trade to one of our most important export markets. The agreement contributes, among other things, to the IT industry and the whitefish industry obtaining competitive tariff terms for the UK. The agreement therefore contributes to value creation and job creation in the Norwegian fish industry,” said Minister of Fisheries and Marine Affairs Bjørnar Skjæran.
The agreement also provides a framework for further cooperation between Norway and the UK in the veterinary field, including trade in food, feed and live animals. The agreement means that effective border control is provided for to ensure that goods enter the market quickly. There is also agreement that Norwegian exports will have the same good conditions as EU exports.
Guarantees for Norwegian companies
“Although the agreement does not replace the important connection we had through the European Economic Area (EEA) agreement, it guarantees Norwegian companies access to the UK market at least as good as EU countries. This is crucial for Norwegian companies and industry to be competitive in the world,” Minister Vestre said.
The free trade agreement also contributes to predictability for Norwegian investors and service providers. Among other things, the agreement allows Norwegian companies to establish and sell services in the UK under predictable framework conditions and makes it easier for UK companies to continue their operations in Norway.
“In June, the EEA and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway agreed with the UK on a free trade agreement. Negotiations began in August 2020 and were concluded in June 2021.“
The free trade agreement is broader than Norway’s other free trade agreements through EFTA cooperation. It contains, among other things, separate chapters on small and medium-sized enterprises, professional certification and digital trade.
The agreement brings several important improvements for products such as frozen peeled shrimp. This species can be exported at reduced tariffs to the UK from December 1, and duty-free from January 1, 2023. The agreement also provides for zero tariffs or access to duty-free import quotas for frozen whitefish fillets. Thus, almost all whitefish exports to the UK will be duty free.