Iceland-China Free Trade Agreement passed

Iceland chinaThe Icelandic parliament Althing passed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China on Wednesday. The Althing passed the agreement after 56 members voted in favour of it and just two against. Three members abstained.

According to Foreign Minister Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, the FTA will ensure the relationship between the two countries will have the chance to strengthen in a number of areas and will also create great business opportunities.

Finance Minister Bjarni Benediktsson said the new agreement, which covers trade facilitation, investment, competition, intellectual property rights and goods and services, will enable the North Atlantic nation to be part of a “booming market” for years to come. He urged Icelandic businesses to take full advantage of it.

Xie Guoxiang, from the Chinese Embassy in Iceland’s economic and commercial counsellor’s office, said the agreement proves the efforts the two countries are prepared to go to enhance their trade and economic ties, and described the FTA as a “milestone” for both China and Iceland.

Iceland and China began negotiating an FTA in 2006, but suspended talks in 2009 when Iceland tried to join the EU. However, the resumed again in 2012 and, after six rounds of negotiations, former Icelandic Prime Minister Johanna Sigurðardóttir signed the agreement whilst on an official visit to China last April.

The agreement will see Iceland put zero tariff on fishery products and industrial products imported from China, which totaled 99.77 per cent of China’s exports to Iceland after the agreement was signed.

Meanwhile, China will put zero tariff on any goods under 7,380 tariff numbers that were imported from Iceland in the same time. That totaled 81.56 per cent of China’s imports from Iceland.