Prime Minister, Erna Solberg of Høyre (H), received the assurances she was looking for when she met EU-President,Jean-Claude Juncker.
Solberg did a fantastic job when she visited Brussels on Tuesday,securing exemptions for Norway if the EU introduces so-called countervailing duties on steel and aluminum.
When she met the European Commission President, he said just what she had hoped to hear.
“I have assured the prime minister that we are working on a solution to soften the possible consequences this could have for Norway,” said Juncker when the two met the press together.
“It will not really have any consequences for Norway at all,” he said.
Can you believe that there will be no new tariffs on steel and aluminum for Norway? There was a bit of disbelief from the Norwegian press, which had been told in advance of the meeting that no clarification was expected.
‘’My statement was like poetry. It speaks for itself,’’ Juncker replied.
A very positive message, Solberg stated.
“I think it is very reassuring for all those who support the EEA agreement that there is solidarity in the EEA which means that we do not introduce such measures against each other,” she said.
Fear of flooding
The EU is afraid that foreign manufacturers could start redirecting their goods to European markets because the new steel and aluminum extras rolled out in the USA make it less profitable to export there.
Therefore, the EU is considering hunting its own tariffs to prevent European markets being flooded by cheap metal from abroad.
Such protection tariffs could initially also have affected exports from Norway, but Juncker has now promised that it will not happen.
Norway has justified the requirement for exceptions.This safeguards that moves against Norwegian exports would be contrary to the principle of equal competition between the countries that are members of the EEA.
Norway is “our closest friend,” Juncker maintained, while assuring that Norway has the EU on its team both in the trade dispute with the United States and in the difficult divorce talks with the United Kingdom.
“The EU’s deep and special relationship with Norway should in no way be compromised by Brexit,” said Juncker.
The same was emphasised by EU President Donald Tusk when he met Solberg earlier today.
“We know that Brexit also creates uncertainty for the EFTA countries. As close partners and friends, we are ready to assist you in your conversations with the UK and keep you well informed about the process,’’ Tusk said.
Agreeing on trade
The message also agreed on the new trade barriers that US President Donald Trump has set up.
Solberg described the trade situation as the most difficult for many years.
“We regret that the US is stepping up with protectionist measures in trade policy,” she said.
In particular, the Prime Minister reacted to Trump’s justification for the new tariffs – that customs are necessary because imports are so high that it poses a threat to US national security.
“We are a closely allied and closely cooperative country. Therefore, it is very strange to use national security as a reason,’’ she said.
© NTB scanpix / #Norway Today