On 4 June 2021, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway (the EEA EFTA States) and the United Kingdom (UK) concluded in substance the negotiations on a comprehensive free trade agreement. The UK is a key trading partner for all three EEA EFTA States. This free trade agreement seeks to safeguard as close trade relations as possible following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Economic Area (EEA).
The EEA EFTA States–UK free trade agreement is an ambitious, progressive and comprehensive free trade agreement. It covers the full range of trade in goods, services and investment, digital trade, capital movements, government procurement, intellectual property, competition, subsidies, small and medium sized enterprises, good regulatory practices and regulatory cooperation, recognition of professional qualifications, trade and sustainable development. It also encompasses legal and horizontal issues including dispute settlement.
Negotiations towards the comprehensive free trade agreement between the two sides commenced in September 2020. Due to a tight timeframe and urgency the negotiations were conducted simultaneously in all respective substance areas, with regular meetings between Chief negotiators. As a result of the unprecedented social-distancing measures and travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, the negotiation teams from the UK, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway with support from the EFTA Secretariat, met solely via video conferencing throughout the negotiating period.
Preliminary version of the main agreement: EEA EFTA-UK Free Trade Agreement
Content Summary: EEA EFTA-UK FTA Section Summary
Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, Iceland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Trade:
“A free trade agreement with the UK has been a priority during my term in office and it will be crucial for both businesses and consumers. I have stressed the importance of ensuring a strong future relationship with the UK following its departure from the EU and I am convinced that this agreement will strengthen the economic relations and the bonds of friendship between Iceland and the UK for years to come.”
Dominique Hasler, Liechtenstein’s Minister of Foreign Affairs:
“We are pleased about this further milestone in the Liechtenstein-UK relations. The agreement creates legal certainty for Liechtenstein companies and prevents discrimination against EU companies.”
Erna Solberg, Norway’s Prime Minister:
“This agreement secures Norwegian jobs and facilitates economic growth, and it marks an important step forward in our relationship with the UK after Brexit. This is a long-term agreement, which also contributes to accelerate the Norwegian economy.”
This press release originally appeared on the website of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).