Iceland wants to develop into a key Arctic business hub and create more trade relationships on its own after abandoning negotiations to join the EU, according to its foreign minister. Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson said Iceland is now focusing its foreign policy on the Arctic.
He explained that his country now plans to put greater effort into creating stronger ties within the Arctic Council and aims to offer a base in the North Atlantic region to support trade with South Korea, China and Singapore as well as other countries.
Countries are trying to take advantage of new shipping routes across the Arctic created by melting ice as the development makes the journey between Asia and Europe shorter and cheaper.
Iceland is also aware that the melting ice could lead to the 13 per cent of the world’s undiscovered oil and the 30 per cent of its undiscovered natural gas reserves that are beneath the Arctic Ocean floor being able to be explored more easily.
The Arctic Council – which is made up from Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Canada, the US, Russia and a number of indigenous groups – granted observer status to Japan, China and India in the region in May this year.