UK seals deal with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein to slash tariffs on cheese, meat and whisky

Fri 4 Jun 2021
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

norway flag

The government has today (4 June) announced a trade deal with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein that will “slash tariffs” on British food and farm exports, while boosting critical sectors like digital.

According to an announcement, this is the first time that the three countries have included dedicated chapters on digital trade and small businesses in any trade agreement.

Trade minister, 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.”

Tariffs cut

The deal will provide greater access for British exports of cheese and meat to the Norwegian market, according to the FT.

Although Norway had few import barriers, it is highly protective of its meat and dairy goods, with duties on cheese imports of 277%, and 344% for beef.

There are also tariff reductions and quotas on pork, poultry and other goods. UK wines and spirits including Scotch whisky will also now gain greater access to markets in Norway and Iceland.

Fish in return

In return, Norway will now be able to export more fish to the UK, City AM reports.

Reduced import tariffs on shrimp, prawns and haddock will cut costs for UK fish processing, helping support 18,000 jobs in the UK, the government said.

Paperwork scrapped

British firms exporting to the three countries will be able to do so without a single piece of paperwork.

All documents, contracts and signatures can be electronic under the deal, allowing goods to move seamlessly.

Norway: an attractive market

According to government figures, the UK is Norway’s largest trading partner. Total trade between the two countries was worth £26.3 billion in 2019.

Norway supplies 40% of the UK’s energy needs and 48.8% of the UK’s exports to Norway are services.

Although the Norwegian market is small with just over five million people, it is highly attractive for UK exporters, as prices are high, and consumers have strong purchasing power.

The new trade deal does not cover access to UK or Norwegian fishing waters, the Telegraph reports. Talks over a separate fishing deal collapsed on 1 May. 

Iceland and Liechtenstein

UK exports to Iceland were worth up by 6% to £604m in 2019, according to government figures.

Liechtenstein received £124m of UK exports, up by 26.5%.

Other aspects

Other elements of the deal include:

  • British businesses can bid for government contracts in partner countries worth £200 million a year
  • Caps on the charges mobile operators are allowed to charge each other for international mobile roaming, a world-first in an FTA
  • Simpler visa processes and professional qualification recognition for high-skilled professionals entering Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein for business purposes
  • Fairer rules for financial services firms, including enabling investors to appoint preferred candidates for senior management without being limited by nationality and residency criteria