OSLO, April 6 (Xinhua) -- Norway and the European Union (EU) have agreed to increase the tax-free import quota for cheese to Norway by 1,200 tons while import quotas for meat shall in total increase by 2,550 tons, online newspaper Nettavisen reported Thursday.
The two parties agreed on a new deal by Article 19 of the European Economic Area (EEA) agreement, which relates to trade in agricultural products.
"We have given the EU quota increases where we already have existing import. At the same time the new agreement will create opportunities for more imports of food specialties," said Norwegian Agriculture Minister Jon Georg Dale.
According to the Article 19 of the EEA agreement, Norway and EU shall every two years go through the terms of trade in agricultural products with the aim of increasing trade.
The new agreement formally enters into force once it has been approved by both parties. Last time it took almost two years for the EU's part, Nettavisen reported.
According to Dale, the agreement will only lead to a small degree of import increase. He pointed out that the EU has mostly licenses for products where there is already import at standard customs charges or where there is a long-term import need.
Following the agreement, the tax-free import quota for cheese increases to 8,400 tons. However, last year's import of cheese from the EU was more than 11,300 tons, which means that a lot came to Norway outside the quota and at standard custom charges.
The agreement shall now be translated into all the EU languages and be submitted to the EU council of ministers. At the same time, Norwegian parliament will do their part, the report said.
According to Nettavisen, the negotiations have been a "political explosive" for both sides of the table. While the EU is fighting hard to put down the Norwegian trade barriers, Norwegian farmers fear that they could be out-competed if the tax-free quotas increase and tariffs go down.
"The reason why we spend a lot of time on these negotiations is that we from the Norwegian side have a wish to safeguard Norwegian interests in the best possible way. This makes negotiations like this demanding," Dale told Norwegian news agency NTB last month.