Free trade agreement with UK will probably not be completed in time – Norway is working on emergency solutions

Iselin NybøPhoto: Geir Olsen / NTB

Norway’s negotiations with the United Kingdom on a new free trade agreement have been severely delayed.

Minister of Trade and Industry Iselin Nybø (V) informed news bureau NTB that Norway and the United Kingdom have now reached a situation where the free trade agreement will probably not be completed on time.

“It’s “full speed ahead.” There should be no doubt about it. Work is being done to meet the October 9 deadline. But now, it is probably likely that we will have to think a little further than that,” Nybø added.

She described the negotiations as demanding.

“There are intense negotiations. These are difficult topics. But it’s working very well,” she said.

The agreement must be ready by October 9 for the Norwegian parliament (Storting) to consider and approve it in time for it to enter into force when the transitional arrangements after Brexit expire at New Year.

Emergency solutions

To ensure that Norway is not left empty-handed, work is also being done on emergency solutions that can take effect at New Year’s if the free trade agreement does not materialize.

The most important element in this preparation process is a “no-deal” agreement that Norway and the United Kingdom have had prepared since March of 2019. 

It was negotiated as an insurance policy in case the United Kingdom should “crash out” of the EU without an agreement on the transitional arrangements that are now in place and are valid throughout the year.

The emergency agreement primarily covers trade in goods and ensures, among other things, zero customs duties on industrial goods.

“The previous “no-deal” agreement must, of course, be adapted and adjusted a little… It will then apply for a transitional period. 

But this is not going to last long. It’s only until we get a comprehensive free trade agreement in place,” Nybø explained.

The hope is that such a transition period will only last for a few weeks or months until a full-fledged free trade agreement is ratified.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today


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