Trade Policy and Third-country Relations

05.04.2011 // Through membership of the European Economic Area (EEA) Norway is part of the EU’s Internal Market. The EEA is, however, not a customs union. Hence, trade policy towards third countries remains outside the scope of the EEA. However, in WTO negotiations it has been important for Norway to stay in close contact with our main trading partners, the most important of which is the EU.

Norway has a small and open economy, which is largely dependent on foreign trade. Foreign trade (export and import combined) constitutes more than half of Norway’s GDP, making it one of the world’s most open economies.

External relations are an important area both for the European Union (EU) and for Norway. The increasing economic and political globalisation raises questions of common concern and interest. Through membership in the European Economic Area (EEA), Norway takes part in much of the economic co-operation within the EU. The EEA Agreement provides for access to a market with free movement of goods, capital, services and persons. About 75 per cent of Norway’s trade is with the EU.

As a trading partner with the EU, Norway is on the size of countries such as Switzerland and Japan. Both Norway and the EU base their trade policies on the rules and agreements of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). In the relations with the EU, market access for fishery products is an important topic for Norway. Historically the question of anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures has also been on the agenda.

Together with Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland, Norway is a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). EFTA plays an active part in the day-to-day administration of the EEA Agreement and the co-ordination and development of Norway’s trade agreements with third countries.

The EU’s relations with third countries all over the world have developed rapidly, particularly in the form of various co-operation arrangements. Such arrangements include those with the Mediterranean region, regional groupings in Asia (ASEAN, ASEM) and Latin America. The relations with the United States have been strengthened through the establishment of a Transatlantic Economic Partnership (TEP).

The dynamic development of the EU’s relations with third countries and the successive conclusion of agreements are in large part paralleled by a similar development in the agreements concluded by EFTA. The past few years have thus been significant in developing relations between EFTA states and third-country partners.  Agreements and the opening of negotiations on such agreements and declarations on co-operation with many countries and partners in Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean, Africa, America and Asia. Currently, the EFTA States have 24 free trade agreements, covering 33 countries.

For further contact, please contact Counsellor Aud Hellstrøm who has the responsibility for the EEA co-ordination, ph.: +32 (0) 2 238 74 67, e-mail: [email protected]. Counsellor on Agriculture Bjørn Eidem works with trade and agriculture, ph.: +32 (0) 2 238 74 49, at the Mission of Norway to the EU. 


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