Norway and Britain have agreed to reach a temporary post-Brexit free trade deal regulating their commercial ties as of January 2021, Norway’s trade ministry said on Wednesday.
London has refused any such temporary agreements with the European Union — of which Norway is not a member — and let a June deadline with Brussels expire.
“Norway and Britain have agreed to reach a temporary agreement on the trade of goods as of January 1, until a free trade agreement can be reached a few months later,” the trade ministry said in a statement.
While it is not a member of the EU, Norway is part of the European Economic Area (EEA), which allowed for fluid trade with Britain, one of its main trading partners.
Britain, which quit the EU on January 31, hopes to sign new trade accords with Brussels and other partners such as the US before the end of the year.
If no agreements are reached, the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) less advantageous regulations will apply, including high customs duties.
The temporary agreement with Norway is based on an agreement Oslo and London negotiated in April 2019 in the event of a ‘hard’ Brexit, the Norwegian ministry said.
“It is important that the business sector be aware that this is a limited deal, both in scope and duration,” Oslo said.
The temporary solution was necessary as Norway deemed “unrealistic” the chances of reaching a permanent agreement by January 1, it said.
London and Oslo meanwhile announced they had reached a fisheries agreement at the end of September, one of the main subjects of disagreement that remains between London and the EU.