Ranil Jayawardena – 2021 Statement on Free Trade Agreement with Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway

The statement made by Ranil Jayawardena, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Trade, in the House of Commons on 8 July 2021.

Today, Norway’s Trade Minister Iselin Nybø, Iceland’s Foreign Minister Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson, Liechtenstein’s Foreign Minister Dominique Hasler, and I are signing the United Kingdom-Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in London. This is another trade deal that the United Kingdom has struck as an independent trading nation, in which our partners have gone further and faster than they have with anyone else in a number of areas, demonstrating what is possible between trusted trading partners.

It is the first time these three European countries have included dedicated chapters on small businesses and digital trade in any trade deal, including some of the most liberalising and modern digital trade provisions in the world, which simplify customs procedures, cutting red tape and making it easier than ever for our businesses to export across borders. Electronic documents, contracts and signatures will result in less paperwork, saving British firms time and money. Their offer to the United Kingdom on services and investment goes beyond what they have offered other FTA partners to date. Innovative FinTech firms will be able to provide financial services into Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, without having to provide that service elsewhere first, helping the United Kingdom to maintain its status as a financial services hub.

The agreement contains robust commitments on trade and sustainable development, demonstrating our shared global leadership on pressing issues such as climate change and protects our “right to regulate”, supporting us in meeting our ambitious domestic climate targets, including net zero for the United Kingdom.

Building on our current goods agreement, this agreement will cut more Norwegian tariffs on high-quality British food and farm products and could help support British fish processing industries from Grimsby to Grampian with further reductions on our tariffs on certain white fish, shrimps and prawns. The agreement could help support businesses in every corner of our country, helping to grow a trading relationship already worth £21.6 billion in 2020.*1

This deal will deliver more opportunities for key British sectors especially those providing financial, legal, and other professional services. It will allow businesses in all sectors to send their staff on business visits or to provide services contracts to these countries, as well as the ability to transfer them for longer term projects. It means those with professional qualifications will have clear routes for the recognition of their qualifications for regulated professions. In addition, the agreement opens up new opportunities for British businesses to bid for a wider range of Government contracts in these countries.

HM Government is committed to transparency and the effective scrutiny of our trade negotiations. Following today’s signature of the FTA, I can announce that the Department for International Trade and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office will be formally presenting the signed treaty text and related documents to Parliament before the summer recess for scrutiny under the Constitutional Reform and Governance (CRaG) Act procedure. Laying ahead of summer recess ensures that the House has the maximum amount of time to scrutinise the detail of our trade deal.

Alongside the treaty text, we will lay an explanatory memorandum. An impact assessment of our trade deal, and a parliamentary report providing an overview of the deal, will also be placed in the Libraries of both Houses at the same time. All of the documents will be published on gov.uk in parallel.

*1 ONS, UK total trade: all countries, non-seasonally adjusted: October to December 2020