Sweden’s trade minister laments Doha Round collapse

The Swedish government has called on the WTO parties to take responsibility for continued negotiations after the collapse of the Doha Round of trade talks on Tuesday.

“After the collapse of the WTO talks yesterday, the parties must take their responsibility and think about how the Doha Round can be moved forward. The hope is to be able to resume negotiations in the near future,” the Swedish Minister for Trade Dr.Ewa Björling, said on Wednesday.

Björling described the collapse of the Doha Round as “a unique opportunity missed to give the world economy a well-needed vitamin boost in times of disquiet with rising oil and food prices.”

The Swedish foreign ministry referred to EU statistics which indicate that a successful completion of the Doha Round would add €100-120 billion to annual global income. This would translate into €165 per household per year in the EU.

The ministry also underlined that the purpose of the Doha Round “is to enable developing countries to become better integrated into the world trade system.”

“In light of the collapse of the WTO talks it is even more important that we finalize the EPA agreements between the EU and countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific as soon as possible,” Dr. Björling said.

The Doha Round was opened in 2001 and involves the 153 member states of the WTO. The WTO has not yet stated its intentions with regard to continuing the process, which could be delayed for several years.

The Swedish government stated its commitment to the WTO and global free trade.

“It’s important that we uphold the multilateral system for trade liberalization. The Swedish Government will continue to work intensively for freer world trade within the WTO framework.”


Norway and UK strike post-Brexit trade deal

Norway and the United Kingdom have struck an agreement on a free trade deal, the Norwegian government announced on Friday.

Norway and UK strike post-Brexit trade deal
Erna Solberg outside 10 Downing Street in 2019. (Photo by LUDOVIC MARIN / POOL / AFP)

Negotiations over the agreement have been ongoing since last summer, and the Norwegian government said that the deal is the largest free trade agreement Norway has entered into, outside of the EEA agreement. 

“The agreement entails a continuation of all previous tariff preferences for seafood and improved market access for white fish, shrimp, and several other products,” the Ministry of Trade and Industry said in a statement.  

One of the sticking points of the negotiations was Norway wanting more access to sell seafood in the UK, while the UK wanted more access to sell agricultural products like cheese.

The latter was a problem due to Norway having import protection against agricultural goods. 

“This agreement secures Norwegian jobs and value creation and marks an important step forward in our relationship with the UK after Brexit. This is a long-term agreement, which at the same time helps to accelerate the Norwegian economy,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg said in a statement.  

 The United Kingdom is Norway’s second most important single market, after the EU. In 2020 Norwegian companies exported goods worth 135 billion kroner to the UK and imported around 42 billion kroner of goods from the UK. 

Norway has given Britain 26 quotas on agricultural products, but not for mutton and beef. The agreement does not increase the UK’s cheese quotas, state broadcaster NRK have reported. 

The agreement will still need to be signed by both the Norwegian and UK parliament.