While the conservative minister of Europe Elisabeth Vik Aspaker signalled that Norway would look coolly on the question of British re-entry into EFTA, the Chairman of the Norwegian sea-going fishing fleet said he was baffled by that caution.
– Norway should welcome the United Kingdom into EFTA. I see no reason why we should be negative to such a process, he said.
When exporting seafood into the European Union, Norway faces tolls and tariffs as the country is not a member state. If Britain were to rejoin EFTA those tolls and tariffs would go away as there are no such barriers between EFTA countries. That makes the Norwegian fishing industry see potential in a UK membership.
– The EFTA treaty will give full toll-free access for Norwegian fish. Additionally, it will be the most solid framework for other Norwegian export interests. It is strange that the government is sitting on the fence about it, Morten Harper, research director of the organisation “No to EU” told the Norwegian public service broadcaster NRK.
Norway exported fish for about 4.7 billion Norwegian kroner into the UK last year. That’s about £437 million. In contrast the Scottish fishing industry is worth, in total, £429 million. Norway landed 2.3 million tonnes of fish, crustaceans, and molluscs last year, in comparison to Scotland’s 336 thousand.