LONDON: Britain announced Friday a free-trade agreement with three European countries — major fishing neighbour Norway as well as Iceland and Liechtenstein — in its latest move to boost trade ties post-Brexit.
The deal, agreed in principle and which builds on “an economic relationship already worth £21.6 billion ($30 billion, 25 billion euros)”, will slash tariffs on British food products, International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said.
Britain formally left the European Union in January 2020 after nearly five decades of membership, and quit its single market and customs union at the start of this year.
Since then, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has replicated or rolled over existing trade agreements with the bloc and several countries, vowing that they will be more advantageous than those negotiated by the EU.
London is currently in advanced trade deal discussions with Australia and has held early talks with India, New Zealand and the United States. Talks are also due to begin soon with Canada and Mexico.
Trade between non-EU member Norway and Britain, separated by the North Sea and key fishing spots, amounted to £20.4 billion last year.
Access to Britain’s rich fishing waters was a major sticking point in post-Brexit talks with the EU.
“Reduced import tariffs on shrimps, prawns and haddock will reduce costs for UK fish processing, helping support some 18,000 jobs in that industry in Scotland” and northern England, said Friday’s statement.
The agreement also “significantly cuts tariffs as high as 277 percent” for exports of some British cheeses to Norway. “There are also tariff reductions and quotas on pork, poultry and other goods. UK wines and spirits including Scotch Whisky will also now be recognised in Norway and Iceland,” the statement added. Exports to the three non-EU countries will meanwhile be done without the need for any paperwork.