Article | Last updated: 2007-03-09 | Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries
Norway negotiates free trade agreements with other countries through the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). The trade agreements secure Norwegian business' access to international markets and facilitate trade with partner countries. In this page you will find information about EFTA and on the free trade agreements Norway/EFTA has with third party countries.
EFTA is an inter-governmental organisation established in 1960. Since then, the European Union (EU) has absorbed six of ten EFTA members. Today, EFTA consists of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Norway. All except Switzerland are members of the European Economic Agreement (EEA). Click here to read more about the EEA and the Norwegian relationship with the EU.
EFTA was founded on the premise of free trade as a means of achieving growth and prosperity amongst its Member States as well as promoting closer economic co-operation between the Western European countries. Furthermore, EFTA was created to be an alternative to the EC's (EU) ambitions on economic integration. Click here to read a bulletin with more information about EFTA.
EFTA's free trade agreements
One of EFTA's main goals has been to contribute to the expansion of trade in the world at large. Since the beginning of the 1990s, EFTA has actively pursued trade relations with third countries in and beyond Europe. A guiding principle for EFTA’s negotiations with third party countries has been to secure that EFTA businesses enjoy the same rights and privileges as businesses from the EU in third country markets. In recent, the EFTA states have prioritised negotiations based on economic considerations, regardless of the EU's trade relations with the third party country in question.
The EFTA countries negotiate their free trade agreements in common, speaking with one voice at the negotiating table. However, EFTA does not have a common trade policy – all member states have to agree on the negotiation parameters prior to each round of negotiations. Thus, each member country maintains full sovereignty in the process.
The free trade agreements secure Norwegian access to international markets and facilitate trade with partner countries, and are therefore an important part of the Norwegian trade policy.
EFTA free trade agreements are supplementary to Norway’s commitments in the WTO – the multilateral trading system is Norway's main priority. Click here to read a brochure with more information about EFTAs free trade relations.
Norwegian export and trade
With a population of 4.5 million inhabitants, Norway is dependent on trade to maintain a high standard of living for its citizens. As a small country, free trade is crucial for the Norwegian economy. One of the main priorities of Norwegian trade policy is to increase market access for manufactured goods, fish, and services.
- Norway exports about 40 per cent of its goods and services. The main export products are oil, gas, minerals and seafood.
- Norway is the world’s third largest oil exporter after Saudi Arabia and Russia.
- Norway’s fisheries industry is among the biggest in Europe. The industry has in recent years experienced a rapid expansion of the fish-farming business.
- Norway has a proud tradition as a seafaring nation, and after the establishment of the Norwegian International Ship Register in 1987, the Norwegian merchant fleet has become the world’s fourth biggest.
- Norway is among the world leaders in a wide range of industries such as energy, environment technology, aquaculture, maritime industries, hydropower, technology and telecommunications.
- The Norwegian government's long-term focus on R&D has enhanced the development of new areas of expertise (e.g. biotechnology, environment technology, software and communications technology, engineering and oil related services). Norway’s highly educated population and the development of pools of expertise make the export of services increasingly important for the Norwegian economy.
- Tourism has emerged as one of Norway’s fastest-growing industries.
Norway currently has free trade agreements with the following countries. If you click on the country you will go to EFTAs webpage with more information about the agreement in question.
|Chile||Korea||The Palestinian territory|
|Egypt||Macedonia||Southern African Customs Union (SACU)|
Norway is currently in negotiations with the following countries:
|Canada||The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)|
Norway has signed declarations on cooperation with the following countries: