Thursday 3 June 2021 6:05 pm

UK-Norway trade deal set to be done by Saturday with tariffs slashed on British agriculture

The UK and Norway are set to strike a £20bn trade deal within the next two days, with both sides very close to an agreement.

A source close to international trade secretary Liz Truss told City A.M. the deal will likely slash Norwegian tariffs on British agricultural exports, like beef and cheese, and provide more access to Norwegian fish imports to the UK.

The deal is also likely to include more digital provisions for data than the EU-Norway trade deal, which the UK had previously rolled over.

The source said it is likely an announcement will be made “in the next 24 to 48 hours”, after negotiations looked to be at an impasse just days ago.

The Christian Democrats party (Krf), part of the current coalition government, last week refused to open up the Norwegian market to British beef and cheese, fearing non-tariff access would put many farmers in the country out of businesses.

However, it appears that an agreement has been struck thanks to the UK’s willingness to open up the UK market to Norwegian fish.

A source close to Truss said the increased fish imports would be “good for fishing towns like Grimsby”.

Norwegian family minister Kjell Ingolf Ropstad told local broadcaster NRK: “It is a large country with which we negotiate an agreement, which is also concerned with gaining good access to the market. But I experience a great deal of agreement in the government that this is a very important agreement for Norway, and that we will work hard to get it in place.”

It was key that a new trade agreement between the countries was closed soon as it has to be ratified by the Norwegian parliament before it goes into summer recess in three weeks’ time.

After the EU, the UK is Norway’s most important trading partner, with an estimated annual value of around £20bn.

The Norwegian market is small, but highly attractive for UK exporters, as prices are high and consumers have strong purchasing power.

The deal will be the latest in a string of agreements closed by international trade secretary Liz Truss.

She is also likely to wrap up an Australian trade deal in two weeks’ time, which will be the UK’s first agreement negotiated from scratch post-Brexit.