Norway to Start a Trade ‘Dialogue’ With the U.K. Next Month

Norway will start a trade dialogue with the U.K. next month to ensure its biggest trading partner meets its interests as Britain embarks on exiting the European Union.

“We are, of course, following developments in the U.K. and in the EU but it’s still quite unclear how the parties will negotiate,” Norwegian Industry Minister Monica Maeland said in an interview after a speech in Oslo. “Our concern is to ensure our interests, both versus the EU and the U.K.”

Norway, which has access to the single market through the European Economic Area, finds itself somewhat on the outside as the U.K. seeks to extricate itself from the EU. That will also sever its ties to the EEA, meaning Norway and the U.K. will need to come up with a new arrangement. Norway is the U.K.’s largest supplier of natural gas.

Maeland said the two countries haven’t discussed any type of deal yet, since it depends on how the U.K. proceeds. The two will now start an “administrative dialogue” next month, she said. She stressed that Norway is not a third party in the the talks, but tied to the EU through the EEA.

“It’s important that we are active,” she said. “But we have respect for the U.K, although it must now decide what processes it should have and also need to agreed with the EU on how to take this further.”