Historical archive

Key issues for Norway in its negotiations with the United Kingdom

Historical archive

Published under: Solberg's Government

Publisher: Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries

Norway will begin negotiations with the United Kingdom for a free trade agreement to be in place by the 31st of December 2020. The Norwegian objectives for the negotiations have now been announced.

– We want to negotiate a wide-ranging free trade agreement with the United Kingdom that will allow today’s trade to continue as fully as possible. Billions of kroner in goods and services cross our borders annually. At the same time, it is important to keep in mind that this agreement will not be able to fully replace the EEA Agreement, so Norwegian businesses must prepare for new trade barriers that may be introduced when the United Kingdom leaves the internal market, says the Minister of Trade and Industry Iselin Nybø.

The Government has determined Norway’s most important objectives for the negotiations.

More information is available here (in Norwegian). 

– An important priority for Norway in these negotiations will be to ensure that Norwegian companies can operate in, and have access to the British market on at least as good terms as EU companies, says Ms Nybø.

Here are some of Norway’s negotiating objectives

  • Norwegian access to the British market on terms at least as favourable as those obtained by the European Union countries, and Norwegian terms matching those of the EU on regulatory areas such as financial services, food safety, technical regulations and veterinary rules.
  • Continuation of almost 60 years of free trade in industrial goods between Norway and the United Kingdom
  • Full free trade for seafood. This would be an improvement over the current situation in which Norwegian seafood exporters do not enjoy free trade into the EU but must deal with a variety of different quotas and tariffs.
  • Ensure the facilitation of modern, efficient customs procedures.
  • With regard to ​agriculture, Norway seeks to negotiate on the basis of current trade in agricultural goods and to maintain protection of sensitive Norwegian agricultural goods. Norway also wants to improve market access for certain of its agricultural products. 
  • As for trade in services, Norway will work to enable Norwegian companies to continue their present trade with the United Kingdom to the extent possible, especially in shipping, telecommunications, engineering, finance and insurance.
  • Retain current market access for maritime transport services. The United Kingdom is among the largest and most important individual markets for Norwegian shipping services.
  • Continuation of current market access for public procurement, including defence and security procurement.
  • On climate, environment and labour rights, Norway seeks a negotiated outcome as least as extensive as in the agreement between the UK and the EU.

The Minister of Trade and Industry points out that time is short for negotiating a free trade agreement, but that we share a common goal of signing a wide-ranging, ambitious agreement and for it to be in place when the transition period expires. Norwegian officials anticipate that challenging questions will have to be resolved, such as issues relating to market access. The Minister of Trade and Industry therefore hopes formal negotiations can begin as soon as possible.

– The United Kingdom's exit from the EU affects Norway and Norwegian trade and industry. The United Kingdom is an important market for many Norwegian exporters, and we also import goods and services for billions of kroner. The United Kingdom’s exit from the internal market means there will be a change of ground rules, and we’ll have to start over with a clean slate, says Norway’s Minister of Trade and Industry.


  • The United Kingdom left the EU on the 31st of January 2020. The transition period began the same date and is to last until the 31st of December 2020.
  • In the period through the 31st of December, the UK is to be treated as if it were still a member of the EU/European Economic Area, and all trade is to continue as before.
  • Norway seeks a wide-ranging free trade agreement with the UK that can enter into force when the transition period expires. The agreement is being negotiated together with Norway’s EEA/European Free Trade Association partner countries Iceland and Liechtenstein.
  • Concurrently, the EU and the United Kingdom will negotiate their own free agreement for their future relationship. The Norwegian and the EU negotiations with the UK are entirely separate. However, Norway wants to consider incorporating some of the arrangements agreed between the EU and the UK in regulatory areas relevant to Norway through the EEA Agreement.
  • The goal of the negotiations is to extend the current terms of trade to the fullest extent possible.

Facts: Trade with the United Kingdom

  • The UK is Norway’s largest single export market, with 22 per cent of all Norwegian exports going there.
  • In 2019 Norway sold goods valued at about NOK 180 billion to the United Kingdom. Oil and gas accounted for about NOK 150 billion of the total while industrial goods such as seafood, machine components and ships came to NOK 30 billion.
  • Last year Norway exported more than NOK 6 billion worth of seafood to the UK, and it is among the UK’s largest seafood providers. Haddock for British fish and chips is among the fish products that Norway supplies, and the UK is the largest market for Norwegian whitefish overall.
  • In 2019, Norway imported NOK 37 billion in goods from the United Kingdom.
  • In 2018 (the latest year for which figures on service exports are available), Norwegian businesses sold about NOK 38 billion in services to the United Kingdom.