Iceland and the UK signed their new free trade agreement in London on Thursday, RÚV reports. Minister of Foreign Affairs Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson says that in finalizing the agreement, Iceland has “secured our interests” with its second-most important trading partner.
The deal, which also extends to fellow EFTA member countries Norway and Liechtenstein, was announced last month and replaces the temporary agreement that went into effect after Britain left the EU. “In terms of overall trade volumes,” the BBC reported, “this deal is more significant for Norway and Iceland than it is for the UK,” although importantly for post-Brexit Britain, it does signal that the nation is quickly making new trade deals for itself. The UK government also said that reduced import tariffs on products such as shrimp, prawns, and haddock would “cut costs for UK fish processing, helping to support jobs in Scotland, East Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire.”
At the time, Guðlaugur Þór hailed the deal as “crucial for both Icelandic companies and consumers,” but those in Iceland’s fishing sector have expressed disappointment with the agreement, believing that little will change for their industry prospects. However, speaking to reporters after signing today, Guðlaugur Þór asserted that “[t]his is not an endpoint. It is, however, gratifying if people are seeing the importance of increasing and strengthening our trade network and increasing our access to foreign markets.”