“Everyone” wants a free trade deal with the United Kingdom after Brexit, Iceland’s foreign minister told listeners of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Tuesday.
When asked by host Jon Humphreys if other nations would want free trade deals with the UK, Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson responded incredulously: “You’re the fifth largest economy in the world. I mean, everyone wants to sell you goods and services. It’s just as simple as that!”
The foreign minister added that it was important that the European Union and the UK “find a solution as soon as possible”, with regards to negotiations, “because it’s very important that we will not see… any technical or trade restriction now in Europe”.
Iceland responded positively to the news of the referendum outcome in June 2016, with the country’s President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson hoping that the UK would align itself with the other Nordic countries “outside of the influence of the European Union”.
Any trade restriction in Europe would be "a step backwards," says @GudlaugurThor
He says the UK should join EFTA (the 'Norway model') pic.twitter.com/9mqoZjsvXN
— BBC Radio 4 Today (@BBCr4today) September 5, 2017
“It is enlightening for anyone to look at a map or a globe and study this part of the world, the magnificent Greenland, the North Atlantic, Iceland, Norway, and then south to the British Isles. And then consider, with regards to trade and international affairs between the United States and Europe, and Asia and Europe, the key position this area will enjoy in the 21st century,” said Mr. Grímsson.
Other senior figures within the bloc have also urged for the best trade deal possible with the UK.
Hans-Olaf Henkel, Vice-chairman of the European Conservatives and Reformists in the European Parliament, has pleaded that “Germany should be the country saying, ‘For Christ’s sake, give them the best trade deal possible’,” mindful of the huge importance of the British market to German exporters.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó, too, has warned that a ‘No Deal’ outcome would be a “nightmare scenario” for European producers, who would find themselves at an increasing competitive disadvantage as the UK — free to sign its own trade agreements once again — begins making deals with countries such as Australia and the United States.