THE Norwegian seafood industry has expressed alarm over future sales to the UK after last night’s crushing Brexit deal defeat in the House of Commons.
Britain is Norway’s fourth largest export market for fish. It exported 148,000 tonnes in 2018, worth more than £5 billion, more than half of it salmon. Add in oil and gas and it means 20 per cent Norway’s total export output is sent to the UK.
Hans Frode Kielland Asmyhr, who heads the Norwegian Seafood Council’s office in London, said it would be the worst possible outcome for his industry if Britain crashes out at the end of March without a deal of some kind.
A lot was at stake and the salmon sector faced great uncertainty, he added. Postponing the decision to leave the EU would be better than a hard Brexit.
Asmyhr said salmon had become hugely popular in Britain over the last few years, and fish and chip shops purchased large amounts of Norwegian cod and haddock. In fact, seafood exports had increased by 18 per cent in value last year.
He told the financial newspaper Finansavisen: ‘A hard Brexit without a trade agreement with the EU will have major implications for Britain’s neighbouring trading partners.
‘And for the Norwegian seafood industry, a hard Brexit will be the worst possible result because all rules on trade as we know them will be removed and we will be entering unknown territory with WTO rules.’
He added: ‘Brexit now goes from being an internal challenge within the UK to having major consequences for trade with neighbouring countries as well as for the European economy.’
So far, there has been no official comment from Iceland, which is the main supplier of cod and haddock to the UK.
Picture: Hans Frode Kielland Asmyhr of the Norwegian Seafood Council