Iceland became the first European country to sign a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China yesterday. The agreement was signed by Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade Össur Skarphéðinsson and his Chinese counterpart Gao Hucheng in Beijing in the presence of the prime ministers of both countries.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (3rd R back) and Iceland Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir (3rd L back) attend a signing ceremony of documents in Beijing, capital of China, April 15, 2013. (Xinhua/Huang Jingwen)
The agreement covers goods and services, rules of origin, trade facilitation, intellectual property rights, competition and investment. A Joint Free Trade Commission will supervise the functioning of the FTA and establish a framework for resolving future trade issues, as stated in a press release.
Annual growth of merchandise export value from Iceland to China more than doubled in 2010-2012, with the largest share being fish and other marine products, or 90 percent of all exports to the country. Meanwhile, imports from China to Iceland have increased 500 percent in the last ten years.
The prime ministers of both countries issued a joint statement on deepening bilateral cooperation and regular political dialogue on human rights, gender equality, labor issues, Arctic affairs as well as cooperation on geothermal development, culture, education and tourism, among other issues.
Iceland has concluded a total of 26 FTAs with a total of 35 partner countries outside the European Union.
Legal procedures of acceptance in both countries are needed before the agreement comes into force.