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China-Norway FTA on track

Global TImes | November 01, 2010

China-Norway FTA on track

Forward momentum on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between China and Norway appears to be on track, despite the recent spat over awarding of the Nobel Prize.

"FTA negotiations between the two countries are still right on track and have not been affected by the Nobel incident, as far as I know," Jo Inge Bekkevold, Economic Counselor for Norwegian Embassy, told the Global Times Thursday.

Trade negotiations started in September 2008 and have been ongoing for more than two years. The latest round of China-Norway free trade talks was held in Oslo about two months ago.

"There are still several issues that remain unresolved in the eighth round of negotiations. And they will be further discussed in the next round," Yao Jian, spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), told the Global Times Thursday.

However, Huang Zheng, a Ministry of Commerce official in charge of the China-Norway Free Trade Agreement nego-tiations, told the Global Times that a clear timetable has yet to be set for the next round.

Norway is currently China’s fourth largest trading partner in northern Europe.

China-Norway trade amounted to $3.56 billion in the first 7 months of 2010, up 8 percent year-on-year.

"The negotiations are very comprehensive and include trade in goods, services as well as investments. The agreement has great potential for mutual benefit," said Bekkevold.

Entrepreneurs in China who do business with Norway are crossing their fingers the agreement will go through.

Wang Xiuquan, import-export manager with Baichuan Industrial, a Qingdao-based company that processes frozen fish from Norway and re-exports to Europe, told the Global Times that when the Free Trade Agreement is finalized, it would benefit Chinese consumers with lower prices.

Imported seafood products from Norway sold domestically pay a 10 percent tariff, so if the tariffs are lifted, lower prices would follow, said Wang.

Fan Xubing, managing director of Beijing-based Seabridge Marketing, an overseas agricultural product promoter in China, said, "With demand in Japan for Norwegian seafood shrinking, the Free Trade Agreement is of great importance as Chinese demand expands rapidly."

Source: Global Times

 source: Global Times