The European Commission and Iceland initialled yesterday, 17 September, two agreements on the further liberalisation of trade in agricultural products and foodstuffs and one on the protection of Geographical Indications (GIs).
These agreements represent a substantial step towards market integration between the EU and Iceland as trade will be duty-free for more than 95% of processed agricultural products and many basic agricultural products.
Currently 66.4% of EU agricultural products enter Iceland duty-free. With the new agreement, Iceland will increase the duty-free access to 91.3% of EU basic agricultural products in terms of trade value.
In addition, the EU will benefit from increased quotas in particular for cheese, beef, pigmeat and poultry. Simultaneously, Iceland will gain additional access for its skyr exports over a transition period of 4 years, from a current quota of 380 tonnes to 4000 tonnes.
With the agreement on GIs, the full list of 1150 EU's protected agricultural products and foodstuffs will enjoy in Iceland the same level of protection as in the EU market.
It expresses the willingness of the two sides to promote and develop trade in quality products, benefiting farmers and industries in both Iceland and the EU.
"Our agreement in the field of geographical indications is part of our mutual commitment for a quality agriculture that preserves local products", said Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan.
Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs Elżbieta Bieńkowska added that "removing trade barriers between the EU and Iceland is a bold step forward; it means business opportunities for our food manufacturers and more choice and competitive price for consumers, both in Iceland and in the EU".
Since the entry into force of the 1972 Iceland-EU free trade agreement and of the EEA agreement, tariff barriers between the EU and Iceland have remained for a number of agricultural, fish and food products. Trade in agricultural and food products between Iceland and the EU is worth over € 236 million per year, on average.
The agreements will be forwarded to the relevant authorities in the EU and Iceland, for scrutiny and formal adoption before their final entry into force.