Liam Fox wants to liberalise trade with Norway

Liam Fox wants to liberalize trade with NorwayLondon, Storbritannia.Minister of Trade and Industry Torbjørn Røe Isaksen (Conservative Party),and UK's Trade Minister Liam Fox.Photo: Johan Falnes / NTB scanpix

The UK’s Minister for Trade, Liam Fox, wants even more liberalism when Norway and Britain negotiate a new free trade agreement after Brexit.


The British Trade Minister received a visit on Monday with the Minister of Industry, Torbjørn Røe Isaksen of Høyre (H), in London.They discussed how trade between Norway and the UK will work when the British withdraw from the EU.

Fox said the goal is to negotiate a new free trade agreement with Norway that can come into force on the 1st of January 2021,when the planned transition period after Brexit expires.The big question thus becomes what Norway and the UK want to get out of this agreement.

“What we have said from the UK is that all new agreements we enter should be at least as liberal as those we have today” Fox said.

Join the dots

Røe Isaksen is on the way to joining the dots.

“Our starting point is clear. It is that it should be an equally good climate for investment and trade as it is today. If anything, things will get better’’ said the Minister for Industry.He drew fish as an example.

“If the UK leaves the EU Customs Union,they will have the opportunity to provide us with better tariff conditions for fish.Then we will be able to offer them cheaper fish for fish and chips.

Global liberalisation

Fox believes global developments have gone wrong since the financial crisis. He is concerned about how ever new obstacles are set up.

“We have entered a period of more protectionism.We must try to reverse this” said the British Minister for Trade.

He believes the British have a unique opportunity to initiate more global free trade as they leave the EU and negotiate their own agreements to replace the EU agreements that the United Kingdom is bound to today.

“We believe the time has come for a global round of trade liberalisation” said Fox.

EEA predicament

Initially,the British plan is to copy the EU’s existing free trade agreements, so as to get the basics in place quickly. Then they will gradually negotiate tailored new agreements with their trading partners.

“But with Norway it will be more complicated.Norway’s membership of the EU’s internal market through the EEA Agreement means that on some questions, we will have to contemplate what agreement the British enter with the EU after divorce’’ explained Røe Isaksen.

“But there is every reason to believe that we will soon be able to get the necessary agreements” he assured.

Prepared for “no deal”

At Monday’s meeting, Fox and Røe Isaksen also spent time discussing what Norway and the UK should do if the British crash out of the EU without agreement because the negotiations on the conditions for divorce are inadequate.

Røe Isaksen still believes that this is an unlikely scenario.

“But we are preparing for all possible outcomes,including a “no deal” scenario’’ he said.

According to Røe Isaksen, Norwegian authorities are well ahead in the process of mapping.

“But it’s a huge job and the uncertainty is great” he warned.


© NTB scanpix / #Norway Today