Call for direct talks as Danish processors face layoffs over production fish dispute

Editorial Staff

‘We are facing a situation where there is duty on raw materials coming into the EU, while Norwegians can send processed salmon into the EU duty-free.’

The Danish Seafood Association has raised concerns over a new trade agreement between the EU and Norway that allows duty-free access for processed Norwegian salmon while maintaining duties on raw materials imported into the EU.

Speaking to Danish media Fodevarewatch, Poul Melgaard Jensen, Director of the Danish Seafood Association, explains that the agreement allows Norwegian processed salmon, such as smoked salmon, to enter the EU market duty-free, while raw salmon imports into the EU still face duties.

This, he says, gives Norwegian producers access to cheaper raw materials and an unfair competitive edge.

“We are facing a situation where there is duty on raw materials coming into the EU, while Norwegians can send processed salmon into the EU duty-free. This initiative is completely incomprehensible. They get duty-free access to the market and at the same time access to cheaper raw materials in the form of production fish, while we have to pay duty on the raw materials,” says Jensen.

Normally, processed salmon faces a 13% duty, which will now be removed under this agreement.

Competitive Advantage

The Danish Seafood Association has previously appealed against Norway’s export ban on production fish – the lowest quality salmon with visible wounds and deformities – arguing that these regulations give the Norwegian industry a competitive advantage.

In 2024, the market has been flooded with Norwegian production fish, causing significant disruptions, according to the Danish industry.

The EU is now expected to allow Norwegian exporters duty-free access to European markets for processed salmon, potentially increasing imports from 450 tons to 2500 tons annually. Including a backlog from previous years, this could result in over 4500 tons of Norwegian salmon entering the EU in the initial years.

“This could have a significant impact on the market. I don’t think anyone here at home will be unaffected – we are facing a bleak future. Whether any businesses will have to close is uncertain, but this affects not only the Danish smokehouse industry but the entire EU,” says Jensen, calling for urgent political action.

Jensen emphasizes the need for direct negotiations and adjustments between the EU and Norway. He warns that taking the matter to the World Trade Organization (WTO) would be time-consuming, whereas immediate action is necessary to prevent further harm to the European salmon industry.

Earlier this year, the Danish Seafood Association filed a complaint with the EU’s trade directorate, DG Trade, regarding Norway’s export ban on farmed fish. The complaint has been accepted, and discussions with the Norwegian government are ongoing. However, no response has been received from Norway yet.

Jensen clarifies that the goal is not to prevent Norwegian companies from accessing the EU market, but to ensure fair competition. The Norwegian salmon industry already dominates the global market, and he urges the EU to reassess the agreement set to be implemented in August.

“Competition is good, but only if it happens on equal terms. We cannot understand how the EU has negotiated this scenario,” Jensen concludes.


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