Fish over cheese in Brexit talks

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Norway’s left-leaning newspaper Dagsavisen has long supported subsidies and tariff protection for farmers in Norway, but now thinks they should let more British cheese into the country if it means Norway can sell more processed fish to the UK.

The paper printed a surprising rebuke to Norway’s protectionist farm lobby in an editorial this week, after news broke last week about internal differences among Norwegians as they negotiate a post-Brexit trade deal with Great Britain.

“Norway has chosen to protect Norwegian agriculture through high tariffs, at the same time Norwegian seafood products have met tariffs in the EU and therefore also in the Great Britain,” Dagsavisen editorialized. The stiffest tariffs apply to processed seafood like cod fillets, smoked salmon and peeled shrimp.

British post-Brexit negotiators reportedly have proposed relaxing such tariffs if Norway will relax some of its own customs barriers for British agricultural products. That, writes Dagsavisen, can provide “a golden opportunity” for more Norwegian seafood to be exported to the UK, which in turn could create more fish processing jobs in Norway that have been lost to Asian or offshore firms. It’s also much shorter and more climate friendly for the UK to import seafood products from Norway instead of from farther away.

“It would mean the Norwegian government would perhaps need to sacrifice a block of cheese or two,” wrote Dagsavisen. “That doesn’t need to be a crisis for Norwegian agriculture, and it can create increased exports of Norwegian seafood. It would be stupid to (for Norway) to negotiate from locked positions.”

newsinenglish.no staff