The UK government has this week announced a new trade deal in principle with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, which is set to boost major British industries including digital.
The deal, agreed in principle on June 4, is the very first time that the trio of Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein have included dedicated chapters on digital trade and small businesses in any trade deal, making it the most advanced agreement that they have struck in history.
As well as supporting jobs across the UK, the new agreement is set to reduce tariffs on food and farm products of British origin.
The new provisions for the digital sector mean that British firms exporting to the three countries can do so without any paperwork needing to be completed. All relevant documents can be signed and processed electronically, allowing for frictionless movement of goods across borders.
The removal of such a significant administrative burden is set to hand a major boost to British businesses and has slashed tariffs by as much as 277 per cent for companies exporting cheeses to Norway. This comes with tariff reductions and quotas on pork, poultry and other goods, while UK wines and spirits including Scotch Whisky will now be recognised in Iceland and Norway.
There is also good news for UK fish processors, with the deal securing reduced import tariffs on shrimp, prawn and haddock, thereby supporting around 18,000 industry-related roles across Scotland, East Riding of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.
Elsewhere in the new deal, British businesses are free to bid for government contracts in Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, which the UK government reports to be worth around £200 million per year.
In a world first within a free-trade agreement, the deal also allows caps on the charges that mobile operators are able to charge each other for international roaming, handing a boost to British tourists and businesspeople travelling to the partner countries.
Furthermore, the deal allows for highly skilled professionals to enter any of the nations for business reasons, enabling quicker and more simplified visa processes. Professional qualification recognition also included in the deal means that professionals such as nurses, lawyers and veterinary surgeons do not need to requalify to work in any of the countries. It also translates to clearer regulations for firms in the financial services sector.
International trade secretary Liz Truss hailed the new deal a “major boost” for UK trade.
She said: “Today’s deal will be a major boost for our trade with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, growing an economic relationship already worth £21.6 billion, while supporting jobs and prosperity in all four nations at home.”
Ranil Jayawardena, international trade minister, added: “This deal shows that the United Kingdom will continue to be a trade partner of choice, as we set the global trade agenda in areas like e-commerce and climate change.
“More trade and more investment will drive growth and support jobs in every corner of our country.”