For the first time since the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Liu Xiaobo triggered a diplomatic crisis between Norway and China, the two countries have met for negotiations on a free trade agreement.
The negotiations have been on hold since 2010, when the Nobel Committee chose to award the Peace Prize to the now-deceased Chinese dissident, Liu Xiaobo.
On Monday to Wednesday this week, Norwegian and Chinese diplomats once again sat around Beijing’s meeting table and discussed the outline of an agreement.
‘This is the ninth round of negotiations between Norway and China on a free trade agreement, and the first since September 2010. Since it was so long since the last, the meetings were primarily used to exchange information about where we stand, and to agree to further negotiations’, said the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
Important for Norwegian business
The parties agreed to meet by the end of 2017 for the next round of negotiations.
‘It’s good that the negotiations between us have been resumed. The reports from the Norwegian negotiating delegation are promising for further progress,’ said Monica Mæland, Minister for Industry (Høyre).
In 2016 we traded goods for just under NOK 90 billion with China, Norway’s most important trading partner in Asia.
‘A free trade agreement with China is important for Norwegian business, and will facilitate increased Norwegian export of goods and services to China,’ said Mæland.
Chinese authorities considered Liu Xiaobo as a criminal, and responded sharply to Norway when he received the peace prize in 2010.
The Norwegian government responded by emphasizing that the Nobel Committee is independent, and makes its decisions without political interference.
In December last year, relations with China were normalized, and full diplomatic contact was resumed.
Liu Xiaobo died of liver cancer in July this year. He was imprisoned in 2009.
© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today