Iceland and the European Union yesterday signed a new convention which will see both parties abolish import duties in several key food areas.
“This is clearly very positive for Icelandic consumers,” Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson told Vísir.
In addition to abolished duties in some product categories, both Iceland and the EU will also increase their tax-free annual quota on imports of various types of meat and cheese.
“What is positive about this is that it is an equitable outcome, which means it is an expansion opportunity for Icelandic agriculture,” the minister says.
Icelandic retailers and consumer groups have been fighting for lower duties and larger quotas for importing food products for years, while farmers have generally been against the idea of flooding the country with cheaper imported food. Sigurður Ingi hopes that the mutual nature of the new EU agreement will mean any loss in domestic market share will be offset by the opportunity to export more than ever to the 28 EU member states.
The minister says he hopes Icelandic retailers will use the greater options available to them to lower prices where possible and do their bit to keep inflation low.
Duties on processed agricultural products including pizza, pasta, baked goods and more—but specifically excluding yogurt—will be completely abolished. Duties on unprocessed agricultural products are also set to be slashed.
The agreement was negotiated in Reykjavík over more than two days this week and is due to come into force at the end of 2016 or the beginning of 2017.