International treaties and cooperation

Norway is a trading nation. In a global context, Norway has a small, open economy. 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 multilateral regulations for trade.

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

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


The World Trade Organization (WTO) was established in 1995. Currently, the organization  has 164 member countries.

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

Since 2001 there have been negotiations on new WTO regulations related to domestic agricultural support, market access and export subsidies (Doha Round). Several times a near consensus on negotiated solutions has been reached. However, since all members must agree on negotiation proposals, it has been difficult to find common solutions.

At the 2015 Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, members agreed to phase out export subsidies. For developed members, including Norway, this would enter into force by the end of 2020. More information regarding the agricultural negotiations in the WTO can be found on the WTO website ( )

The EEA Agreement

The EEA Agreement was implemented January 1, 1995. In general, agricultural policy is not a part of the agreement. However, the agreement does include several provisions regarding 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 agricultural raw material costs between Norway and the EU, to allow food industries in Norway and the EU that process raw materials to compete on equal terms.  There is no compensation for other differences in costs like labour and energy.For unprocessed agricultural products like meat, cheese, vegetables and fruits, trade in agricultural commodities is to be reviewed every second year with a view to promote 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 three Article 19 agreements with the EU. The last agreement entered into force October 1 2018.

EFTA trade agreements

EFTA countries Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein currently have 27 trade agreements with 38 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 the same country. In recent years, EFTA has changed this approach, and has now concluded agreements with countries that the EU does not yet have agreements with.

In all agreements, trade in goods is very important. Other countries often desire considerably improved market access for agricultural products 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.