On April 14 during a visit five-day visit to China by Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir, Iceland became the first European country to sign a free-trade agreement with China after nearly six years of talks. The deal will lower tariffs on a range of goods traded between the two countries.
Trade between China and Iceland rose 21 percent in 2012 to $180 million, according to China’s Ministry of Foreign Trade. Iceland’s exports to China, which totaled $61 million last year, consisted of mostly fish. Experts say China is interested in Iceland’s geothermal energy expertise, while Iceland is still reeling from the financial crisis and looking for ways to prop up its economy.
“It’s important for Iceland to conclude pacts like this to strengthen trade following the economic collapse,” Sigurdardottir told Bloomberg News.
Iceland gets about 25 percent of its power from geothermal energy, according to Bloomberg News. The two countries also issued a joint statement calling for cooperation on “human rights, gender equality, labor issues, Arctic affairs, as well as cooperation on geothermal development, culture, education and tourism,” according to the New York Times.