According to the House of Industry, Faroese exporters hope for a refined and extended free trade agreement with the European Union as the nature of Faroese exports has changed significantly in result of growth in pelagic fisheries.
[By B. Tyril]
The wheels tend to turn slowly when it comes to foreign trade relations, and forging trade agreements with foreign governments or trade blocs can be a long process. The Faroese, however, need to push for more trade agreements as the existing ones are rather insufficient, according to Marita Rasmussen, of the House of Industry.
“The Faroe Islands has to work hard to sign new trade agreements with countries and blocs,” she said. “We understand there are ongoing efforts toward bringing the existing free trade agreement between the Faroes and the EU in line with today’s realities in the seafood industry. This is very positive and we await the result; but we need to reach out to many more countries.”
Meanwhile, a free trade agreement with Turkey, signed in late 2014 and ratified this spring (2016) by the Faroese, is pending ratification of the Turkish Parliament.
Many exporters in the Faroe Islands view the current Free Trade Agreement with the EU, originally signed in 1997 and amended in 1999, as inadequate in some key aspects. Under its framework, value-added seafoods from the Faroe Islands—with the exception of, notably, farmed salmon and saltfish products—are subject to high customs tariffs, effectively blocking exports of such products to EU member states.
Disputes over fishing rights a few years ago had their toll on trade relations following the EU’s year-long boycott of commercially important Faroese fish products, forcing the Faroese to look for alternative markets.
As a result, high volumes of frozen pelagic fish from the Faroe Islands have found their way to other markets with Russia, measured by country, becoming by far the largest.
“Trade between the Faroe Islands and the Russian Federation has increased significantly in the last couple of years,” Ms. Rasmussen said.
“The Faroese seafood industry, however, is hoping to see negotiations started sooner rather than later on a Free Trade Agreement with the whole Eurasian Economic Union, which includes Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan.”
Exports to other countries have also increased markedly.
“We note that initial steps are being made to further develop trade relations with the US and other countries, notably in South America and in Asia, and we strongly encourage these processes.”