On 8 July 2021, the three EEA EFTA States (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) signed a new free trade agreement with the United Kingdom (UK). Following agreement in principle last month, this signing marks a new closer alliance between Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and the UK, which will see the four countries work together to promote prosperity and champion free trade.
The agreement was signed in London by Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland; Dominique Hasler, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Liechtenstein; Iselin Nybø, Minister of Industry and Trade of Norway; and Ranil Jayawardena, Minister for International Trade of the United Kingdom.
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.
The agreement also contains substantial provisions in the area of trade and sustainable development, covering environmental protection, climate change as well labour law. Furthermore, a special chapter on gender equality and women’s empowerment in trade is included.
Iceland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development Cooperation Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson said:
“The Free Trade Agreement between the United Kingdom and Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein we have signed today marks a new beginning in the relationship between our countries. I am very pleased with the outcome as I am convinced that this agreement will boost our economic relations and strengthen the ties between the nations even further. This signing is historic in every sense of the word.”
Liechtenstein’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Education and Sport Dominique Hasler said:
“Services and investment activities are a key component of our trade relations with the UK. I am convinced that the state-of-the-art provisions of this agreement will allow them to thrive.”
Norway’s Minister of Trade and Industry Iselin Nybø said:
“The UK market is of great importance to Norway. Today marks an important step in our future relationship with the United Kingdom. I am proud that we have concluded an ambitious and comprehensive free trade agreement, which will provide predictability and opportunities for our businesses, investors, students and workers in the years to come.”
Formal negotiations between the EFTA States within the EEA and the UK formally began in September last year following the UK withdrawal from the EU. An interim agreement on trade in goods that entered into force at the beginning of the year will now be superseded by this permanent free trade agreement. An Air Transport Agreement with the UK was signed last December.
Switzerland, EFTA‘s fourth Member State, signed a continuity agreement with the UK in 2019. The Swiss-UK trade agreement includes provisions on trade in goods – including provisions on preferential tariffs, tariff rate quotas, non-tariff measures including sanitary and phytosanitary measures; intellectual property, including geographical indications; and government procurement.
Find the EEA EFTA-UK free trade agreement, together with annexes, here.
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