Iceland Approves Free Trade Agreement With China - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Iceland Approves Free Trade Agreement With China

Published January 30, 2014

There was much celebration in parliament over the decision, but not every MP was on board.

Vísir reports that former Minister of Foreign Affairs Össur Skarphéðinsson – who was on the cabinet when the deal was first initiated in 2006 – said the agreement was “the most important foreign policy agreement Icelanders have made since we joined the [European Economic Area].”

Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, the current Minister of Foreign Affairs, also saw reason to celebrate the decision, which was approved by every member of parliament but five.

“I have faith that the agreement will create many business opportunities, and opportunities to increase our trade with China in other areas,” he said in part.

Despite the festive occasion, two MPs – Birgitta Jónsdóttir and Helgi Hrafn Gunnarsson of the Pirate Party – voted against the agreement, whilst fellow Pirate Jón Þór Ólafsson abstained, along with Left-Greens Bjarkey Gunnarsdóttir and Ólafur Gunnarsson.

Birgitta encouraged parliament to follow the lead of Canada and the US, and officially denounce the imprisonment of lawyer Xu Zhiyong, who was recently sentenced to four years for criticising the Chinese government.

“I would also ask members of parliament to realise that we won’t get out of [China’s] embrace except by joining the European Union when companies start going bankrupt,” she said.


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