A FREE trade deal between Britain and Iceland after Brexit was now a real possibility, Stefán Haukur Jóhannesson, Iceland’s ambassador to the UK, said in Grimsby yesterday.
He was on a two-day fact finding and contact building mission to the South Humber port complex, during which he met industry leaders over dinner, and toured the fish market and the Grimsby Seafood Village.
Jóhannesson (pictured), who is one of his country’s most experienced diplomats, was in town at a time when the Grimsby Fish Market is enjoying one of its best periods for a long time, with good supplies, strong trading and firm prices.
He told Fish Update that local seafood processors, who employ more than 5,000 people in the town, expressed their concerns over long term future supplies from Iceland, and he was able to assure them they need not worry on this matter.
‘We are the biggest supplier to Grimsby, supplying over 75 per cent of its fish, and the UK is Iceland’s biggest trade partner so you are very important to us,’ he said.
Asked about the possibility of a fee trade deal with the UK, he replied: ‘I think there is an excellent chance. We are working with many people, including parliamentarians, on this (stronger relations with the UK).
‘It is our intention to have a thriving post-Brexit relationship so we can continue to send you our fish.’
Iceland is a member of the EEA (European Economic Area), which Britain is leaving along with the EU, so there would have to be a new relationship between Reykjavik and London.
Jóhannesson, who was born and brought up in a fishing community in the Westman islands, revealed that one of his first jobs as a teenager was working in a fish factory, adding that he was quite familiar with cod.