An event hosted by the Norwegian-British Chamber of Commerce
In light of the upcoming trade negotiations between Norway and the UK, the Norwegian Embassy in London hosted an event under the topic “Brexit: Norway and UK”, together with the Norwegian-British Chamber of Commerce on 12 March. The NBCC invited its members to participate in a two hour engaging discussion about the future economic relations between the two countries, giving various perspectives from both the Norwegian embassy, the separate governments as well as affected traders.
Opening remarks were made by the Ambassador, Wegger Chr. Strømmen, himself, followed by an update from Simen Svenheim, also representing the Norwegian Embassy, regarding future agreement outlooks, trade of services and mobility. In the case of mobility, the general consensus is that neither will be seeking free moving of people. Those areas where UK and Norway currently have free trade are not likely to change, though trading of financial services will. To summarize – some areas will cause friction in terms of negotiations, some will remain unchanged.
Brexit Business Impact
To get a corporate perspective on the future negotiations and the economic relations between the two countries, the event evolved around an open dialogue with the audience regarding their concerns and priorities for the negotiations. Further, David Cairn, current Vice President for the large Norwegian corporation Equinor, was included among the speakers.
In response to the general concerns, representatives from the UK government were present to update the audience about ongoing negotiations. With expected changes in trade regulations, the primary concern seemed to be around the survival of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME’s).
The government representatives agreed that there will indeed be disagreements involving three areas; governance, fishery and customs, though the Prime Minister has the intention and desire to seek similar arrangements with EEA countries as prior to Brexit.
Government support for SME’s
The audience presented concerns regarding whether the government will be supporting smaller players exporting to the UK, and how they assess the knowledge amongst these SMEs in terms of the financial consequences of Brexit. With all the uncertainty involving when and on what terms Brexit would actually happen, there was a perception of smaller business owners feeling “Whatever happens, happens”.
Overall the event, very purposely, gave insights into the struggles and concerns of the Norwegian businesses, with takeaways for the governmental parties to include in future negotiations and subsequently offer solutions. As NBCC manager Kyrre Haugen mentioned during his speech – SMEs contribute to the majority of the Norwegian economy, therefore, let’s hope they become priority for the upcoming negotiations.