As we enter the new year we also enter a new era for the relationship between Norway and the United Kingdom. We are no longer both participating in the single market and this will affect how we interact now and in the future. While we have an interim trade agreement in goods and aim to complete a comprehensive free trade agreement in the coming months, this will not fully replicate the market access we both enjoyed as parties to the EEA Agreement.
It is important that all businesses reflect on what has changed and what your business needs to do to adapt. Some changes are minor, other more substantial. Some of the biggest changes are around immigration rules and I have already heard from companies who have been caught out on this. Freedom of movement has ended and it is important that you ensure that you are aware of the new rules applicable for working in or moving to Norway or the UK going forward. In financial services single market passporting rights do not currently apply. Other important changes are on trade and veterinary rules. The UK will phase in border controls for Norwegian exports (like seafood) over the coming months, while in Norway these took effect on 1 January. While the UK border seems to be operating well as I write this, you also need to be prepared that the additional procedures may cause delays in shipments. Extra Covid-19-related checks also play into this.
While some of this new friction may cause some short-term issues for some of you, over time I’m confident we’ll be able to adapt to the new rules and procedures. Our new free trade agreement, once fully agreed, will likely be among the most comprehensive Norway has ever entered into. The UK will remain a close and valued partner and a favourite destination for Norwegian companies and visitors alike. Of course, the ongoing pandemic is overshadowing trade policy at the moment and causing disruption and despair to many, but there will be a day when normality returns. Once it does, I hope we can all bounce back and continue building on our strong relationship.
Editorial by Wegger Chr. Strømmen, Norwegian Ambassador to the United Kingdom.