THE UK struck a deal with Norway and Iceland yesterday which will see trade continue unchanged in the event of a no deal exit from the EU.
Trade secretary Liam Fox said: ‘This is the second biggest agreement we’re rolling over and trade with EEA (the European Economic Area) is worth nearly £30 billion.’
Continued trade with the other EEA member, Liechtenstein, and with Switzerland, which is neither an EU nor EEA member but is part of the EU’s single market, is covered by an agreement already signed in February.
With Brexit talks ongoing, Britain is seeking to replicate around 40 EU bilateral trade deals ahead of leaving Europe.
The leave date of March 29 – 10 days from now – looks increasingly likely to be delayed following the decision by Commons Speaker John Bercow yesterday to refuse a third meaningful vote on Theresa May’s withdrawal deal.
If Britain leaves without a deal, existing bilateral trade agreements will cease to apply.
The Norway and Iceland accord, described by Bloomberg as temporary, will ensure continued access for British businesses to the European Economic Area if there is no deal, said Fox.
It will maintain zero tariffs on established quotas on seafood and agricultural products.
The deal also establishes a basis for negotiating a permanent agreement to ensure the continuation of as much of the open trade arrangement that the single market represents, the Norwegian foreign ministry said.
Norway’s fisheries minister, Harald Tom Nesvik, said during a visit to London in January that his country wanted to strike its own deal with the UK.
‘There is no doubt Norway and Britain truly depend on each other and that is why it is crucial to ensure predictable and uninterrupted trade between our two countries,’ said Nesvik at the Norwegian Seafood Council’s London summit.
Liam Fox said of the new deal: ‘Combined with the agreement we have already signed with Liechtenstein and Switzerland, it accounts for close to half of the trade we’re seeking continuity for.
‘This is good news for British businesses and a major milestone in getting the UK ready for Brexit, no matter the terms of our withdrawal.’
Picture: Trade secretary Liam Fox