• Minister Address - Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson, Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade

Better  understanding and closer cooperation are key to successful bilateral and multilateral relations. The cooperation between Iceland and China is a good example of this . Iceland and China enjoy good relations and cooperate on a range of global, regional and bilateral issues, such as geothermal energy and in research and education.  The vast differences between Iceland and China in terms of population, size, geographic location, culture, history and political system have never been an obstacle in the relations.  On the contrary, the two countries have set a good example of a fruitful cooperation between a big and a small nation in addressing challenges of common concern.

These good relations have now been brought to a new level by the newly concluded Free Trade Agreement between Iceland and China. Through this free trade agreement, Iceland becomes the first free trade partner of China in Europe. The Free Trade Agreement, with its broad scope, is of great significance and is an achievement of the growing bilateral trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.  New trade records have repeatedly been set in the past decade with steady growth in trade volume and increased variety of trade items. New cooperation and investment projects have also been initiated covering different sectors. China has for years been the biggest Asian trading partner for Iceland and its share in Iceland´s foreign trade continues to grow. Moreover, Chinese tourists visit Iceland in growing numbers and during the last two years the growth has been 50-70% year on year.

The Iceland-China Free Trade Agreement is paving the way for more achievements in the coming years.  This enhanced partnership between the two countries provides a solid platform for interested parties in both countries to engage in fruitful cooperation, not only in trade, but also in political consultations as well as in in other forms of cooperation, including in energy cooperation and investments that will benefit both countries.

More and more Icelandic companies are now looking to China for ways of tapping into the various opportunities stemming from the Free Trade Agreement.  The fast growing economy and improving living standard of more than a billion of Chinese people have made China a vital market for all serious and ambitious business enterprises. Icelandic companies are no exception in that regard.

The “Made-in-Iceland Project”, MII, is thus a much welcome platform to present Icelandic products and services to China. The Icelandic companies are ready to work with their Chinese counterparts with great effort and enthusiasm. I am confident that not only companies in both countries will benefit from this closer cooperation but also that relations between Iceland and China will  grow stronger as a result. I warmly welcome our Chinese partners to join us in this process.