The chairman of one of the largest commerce organisation in the country had some strong words for Iceland’s customs and tolls, comparing the current system to “barbarism”.
Margrét Kristmannsdóttir, director of the Federation of Trade & Services (SVÞ), kicked off a conference of the Confederation of Icelandic Employers (SA) with a speech about Iceland’s system of customs and tolls. The entirety of the conference, entitled “Tear Down the Walls”, had as its central focus what the government should be doing to improve business within Iceland and trade abroad.
Not one to mince words, Margrét made her feelings plain.
“We Icelanders are often like barbarians when it comes to international business,” she said. “We consider it perfectly natural to export agricultural products, but lock all doors to imports.”
She added that she would like to bring in those shops that Iceland has been holding at bay with their high imports and customs tariffs. The country’s protectionist policies, she contends, are the reason why many Icelanders go abroad to shop for things such as electronics and furniture, as opposed to spending their money in the country.
But even when it comes to what Icelanders eat, there is an imbalance, Margrét contends. The price of pork and chicken has risen 20% to 40%, and while we ought to protect traditional farming methods in the countryside, industrial factory-farming should have no such protection. Agricultural import tariffs and protectionist policies damage domestic business, she said.