Norway would like to join others in welcoming the delegation from the European Union, and thanking the Secretariat and the EU for their reports. I would also like to thank the EU for the responses to our questions.
Norway appreciates our close and longstanding cooperation with the EU in the WTO. The EU is a key player in shaping the multilateral trading system. We appreciate the EU’s active engagement to strengthen and modernize the WTO through various reform initiatives and in ongoing negotiation processes. This is of particular significance in the current situation, when we see tendencies towards protectionism and managed trade.
Let me in this context highlight and commend the active engagement of the EU in the plurilateral negotiations on e-commerce. Updating the rulebook and addressing the opportunities and challenges of the digital economy is an important element in our collective effort to ensure the continued relevance of the WTO.
Bilaterally, Norway and the EU enjoy a strong trade relationship that benefits both parties. The EU is Norway’s most important trading partner. The EEA Agreement is the cornerstone of Norway’s relationship with the EU, and ensures that we share a common set of rules with our most important trading partners.
Norway and EU shares the view that trade and environmental policies can and must be mutually supportive. We commend the EU for being ambitious in addressing the climate challenge and taking environmental action, including the European Green Deal. Norway shares the view that trade policy can support the transition to a circular and climate resilient economy. Furthermore, Norway supports integrating continuously stronger provisions on trade and sustainable development in free trade agreements, as the EU emphasizes.
Norway and the EU share the goals and ambitions of facilitating sustainable growth in both new and traditional ocean industries, such as the maritime, petroleum and seafood industries. Norway and the EU have shared interests in the liberalization of trade in services in general and in particular in maritime transport.
Maritime transport is an important facilitator of world trade and considered an environmental friendly mode of transport. We appreciate the close co-operation with the EU on the issue of further greening maritime transport including the development of low and zero emission vessels, and the important work of the International Maritime Organisation.
Furthermore, our cooperation to promote a fair and transparent global shipbuilding market is highly appreciated. The global imbalance in shipbuilding markets is a threat to sustainable employment, the economy and the environment.
Fisheries is another topic of particular interest to Norway. EU is the largest export market for Norwegian fish exports, and Norway is the leading supplier of fish and fishery products to the EU. Except for oil and gas, fish is the single largest export item from Norway to the EU.
With an average tariff of 11,8 per cent for fish and fish products, tariff escalation, broad use of bilateral TRQs, autonomous quotas and end-user requirements, we believe there is room for improvements in the EU trade regime for seafood.
The EU is an important player in the ongoing fisheries subsidies negotiations. Prohibiting certain forms of subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing is the most important part of the mandate. These negotiations must lead to real reductions in global fisheries subsidies. Norway expects major subsidizers and big fishing nations to make the biggest reductions in their fisheries subsidies. We encourage the EU to indicate how it will contribute accordingly.
In conclusion, Norway is looking forward to continuing the close cooperation on trade related issues with the EU, including on how to strengthen and modernize the WTO. In this context, Norway and the EU share the view that a functioning dispute settlement system is of the utmost importance to the rules-based trading system. Norway remains committed to work with the EU and other WTO Members to find a lasting solution to the current crisis related to the Appellate Body.