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Norway bids to keep exports to UK easy as Brexit nears

George Eustice, left, and Haralad Nesvik on one of the previous occasions where they met to discuss the implications of Brexit for Norway.
George Eustice, left, and Haralad Nesvik on one of the previous occasions where they met to discuss the implications of Brexit for Norway.

Norway’s fisheries minister Harald Nesvik will again meet his Westminster counterpart, George Eustice, in London to discuss how the UK’s exit from the European Union at the end of this month will affect the management of the fish and seafood trade.

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“We are approaching the date the British will leave the EU. That is why we must prepare for the post-Brexit period so that trade can continue as it is today, and that the market access for seafood to the UK will be the same,” Nesvik said in a press release.

The UK is an important customer for Norway’s seafood industry, and Brexit was also on the agenda during the annual conference of the Norwegian Seafood Council on January 7, where Nesvik said he had had several meetings with Eustice and Norway had a close dialogue with the UK.

Danger of surprises

“We can hope for an organised Brexit, not a hard Brexit. We don’t know yet. We are approaching a deadline now, January 31,” said Nesvik.

He adds that the danger with such situations is that one may be prepared for what one knows, but that there may be surprises that can be linked to logistics. 

“With an organised Brexit, things will move forward in the transition period. Then we must go ahead and get a permanent trade agreement in place,” said the minister. 

‘We can compete’

Nesvik told Fish Farming Expert’s Norwegian sister site Kyst.no that during the 11-month transition period following January 31, Norway will be charged the same rate of duty on seafood as the countries that process the product in the EU. 

“This is positive and means we can compete with processed product towards the UK.”

Asked what he was working on with regard to Norwegian exports of salmon to the UK, Nesvik told Kyst.no: “The UK cannot negotiate trade agreements with countries until they are permanently out of the EU. So, of course, we have these agreements related to the transitional arrangement, and not least upon resignation, so that one does not encounter a trade barrier from the day they sign out. We really control these things.”

Good dialogue

Nesvik also said that he has worked with transitional agreements for one year and has already been to London three times because there is a lot to discuss. 

He added that because they have good dialogue and good agreements in place regarding fish health certificates, veterinary checks and more, there are no changes related to Brexit that have immediate effect.

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