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Scandinavia Today / Europe



Trade war between EU and Norway?

Sunday, 02 December 2012
Norway is taking drastic action to raising duties on cheese and means. Since much of these products are imported from the EU, the organisation is not happy and is threatening legal action.

According to reports out on Sunday, the EU is now threatening legal action against Norway, as a result of a shock raise in the duty on cheese and meat. Closest neighbour, Sweden and one of its leading exporter - the Swedish dairy industry believe that tariffs means the end for the Swedish cheese exports to Norway.

The relationship between Norway and the EU have always been tense in terms of trade in food. The Norwegians are keen to protect their agricultural system and products as such when the farmers in Norway start agitating, about what they described as, "European prices dumping," it affects the government.

This autumn, trade relation with the European Union and not least, nearest neighbour, Sweden, got sour further as Oslo announced that at the end of the year there would be a shock rise in duty on products including meat and cheese.

A Norwegian company, in the new year would buy Swedish cheese worth for Skr10 000 but pay Skr27,700 in duty to bring it over the border to Norway. This means a stop for Swedish cheese to Norway, according to Swedish trade organization, Swedish Dairy Association. For lamb and beef, the duty will even be higher, at most 429 percent.

Swedish Minister for Trade, Ewa Björling had called in an article in October that the dramatic Norwegian tariff increase was seen as "very serious".
"Besides it sending a wrong signal, the calculated Norway's harmful trade will cost Sweden up to 700 dairy-related jobs. This is nothing we can or should tolerate, " she wrote , according to Swedish daily, Dagens Nyheter.

The EU Parliament called this week for the Norwegian EU Ambassador, Atle Leikvoll, to get an explanation. Leikvoll said that Norway needs to regulate imports to maintain a domestic food production.

The Swedish Minister for Rural Affairs, Eskil Erlandsson does not think that the Norwegian farmers would not benefit from the high tariffs.

"The national duties have been difficult, for example Ikea will not be able to get their meatballs as they usually provide at their stores, in Norway. I think this is not acceptable, and the Norwegians know about that," said the Swedish Minister for Rural Affairsm, Eskil Erlandsson to radio Sweden, adding that "these types of protectionist measures usually never promote the development I believe, the Norwegians want, as well as all other countries."

Both Sweden and Brussels wants to avoid responding in kind of matter and to start a trade war with Norway. European Commission officials are now investigating whether they can access the Norwegian Customs decision on procedural grounds said a according t a source to radio Sweden
Traditionally, agricultural products are exempt from the so-called EEA Agreement, which incorporates Norway in the EU internal market. However, there is a clause in the agreement dealing with increased trade liberalization. This possibly means a draconian tariff increase an offense against free trade between Norway and the EU.

But the Norwegian Ambassador to the EU claims that Norway has the right to make its tariff increase.
by Team

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