International treaties and cooperation

Norway is a strong supporter of trade. Overall, Norway is a large exporter and importer. The main trade organization Norway has joined is the World Trade Organization (WTO) based in Geneva. This organization establishes rules and rights for trade between countries. Especially for small countries it is important to have practicable regulations.

Norway also has separate agreements with other countries. The main treaty is the EEA Agreement. Beyond this agreement Norway negotiates trade agreements through EFTA.

In all these agreements trade in agricultural products is of prime importance. 

WTO 

The World Trade Organization (WTO) was established in 1995. Currently, the organization  has 160 member countries.

WTO ensures that member states follow the rights and obligations stipulated in the agreements. They are also responsible for new global trade negotiations.

Since 2001 there have been agriculture policy negotiations on new WTO regulations related to national agricultural support, tariff protection and export subsidies (Doha Round). Several times a near consensus on negotiated solution has been reached. However, since all member countries must agree on negotiation proposals, it has been difficult to find common solutions.

The member countries are working to agree on a schedule for completion of negotiations by July 2015. Ongoing updates on daily proceedings and negotiations are published on the WTO website

The EEA Agreement

The EEA Agreement was implemented January 1, 1995. General agricultural policy is not part of the agreement. However, the agreement does include several provisions on trade in agricultural products. Processed agricultural products such as yogurt, chocolate, pastries, pizza, etc. have a separate agreement detailed in Protocol 3 to the EEA Agreement. 

Protocol 3 comprises regulations aiming to offset differences in commodity prices between Norway and the EU, to allow food industries in Norway and the EU that process raw materials to compete on equal terms. At present, however, EU exports considerably more processed agricultural products to Norway than it imports.

For unprocessed agricultural products like meat, cheese, vegetables and fruits, trade in agricultural commodities is to be reviewed every two years with a view to further liberalization (EEA Agreement Article 19). The negotiations shall proceed within the framework of the parties' respective agricultural policies and be mutually beneficial.

After Norway implemented the EEA agreement it has entered into two article 19 agreements with the EU. New negotiations will start early in 2015. 

EFTA trade agreements

EFTA countries Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein currently have 25 trade agreements with 35 countries. Together these agreements and the EEA Agreement cover very much of Norway's trade.

Traditionally, EFTA countries would negotiate agreements with any new country only after the EU had signed a trade agreement with that country. In recent years, EFTA has loosened this restraint, and has now in Asia and America entered into agreements with countries that the EU does not yet have agreements with.

In all agreements, commodity trade is very important. Parties to negotiation often desire considerably improved acces for agricultural product exports to Norway. Norway endeavours to find a balance between more open trade and safeguarding the interests of Norwegian agricultural production. In agreements, Norway also asks for somewhat increased opportunities for exports of agricultural products. 

More information is available on the EFTA website.