Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Newfoundland and Labrador Signs MOU with Iceland

Newfoundland and Labrador Signs MOU with Iceland

Interest and activity in trade between Iceland and Newfoundland and Labrador has been steadily growing in recent years. Today in St. John’s, the two jurisdictions formalized a partnership to further explore opportunities with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

The MOU was announced by the Honourable Danny Williams, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, and His Excellency Geir H. Haarde, Prime Minister of Iceland, during a ceremony at The Rooms in St. John’s today. The ceremony was attended by business people, representatives of industry and cultural associations, educators and government officials.
"The Provincial Government has led a number of trade missions to Iceland in recent years and each one has proven very successful," said Premier Williams. "We recognize the similarities in our respective jurisdictions and we welcome the opportunity to learn from each other as we move forward. Our government is proud to formalize this relationship with Iceland, as we know the value of sharing information and building partnerships with other jurisdictions. I thank Prime Minister Haarde for his personal interest and I look forward to many positive results and exciting opportunities as a result of this MOU."

The MOU is designed to further promote the friendly relations that exist between Iceland and Newfoundland and Labrador. In particular, it seeks to enhance co-operation between business and industries through business ventures, technology transfer and research and development; and to enhance co-operation in cultural industries, education and the arts.

"In Iceland, we enthusiastically welcome this new Memorandum of Understanding with Newfoundland and Labrador which will unquestionably enhance direct relations between two North Atlantic neighbours, our governments, institutions, businesses and people in general," said Prime Minister Haarde. "It covers a very broad range of issues and prospects in both economic and cultural developments. It will serve as a catalyst for stakeholders in different fields of activities to embark on new avenues with respect to bilateral contacts between our countries. The milestone free-trade agreement between Iceland and Canada, which is now in its final stages before formal ratification and implementation, will bring about completely new commercial opportunities for our business communities. Already existing trade links will be reinforced and new ones created. The long awaited air services agreement which is now in place and operational, will also boost two-way traffic and further facilitate a successful execution of the MOU between Iceland and Newfoundland Labrador."

In recent years, the province has led a number of trade missions to Iceland the most recent being in November 2007 in which 31 companies and organizations participated. During the mission, a three-day trade show was held that was expected to attract 2,000 people, but after the event it was recorded that more than 5,000 Icelanders attended. As a result of these missions, a number of contracts have been signed by Newfoundland and Labrador businesses with Icelandic companies in the fields of ocean technology, clothing, construction, craft and giftware.
The trade missions have led to the formation of valuable partnerships. Companies such as Northstar Technical and R. Sigmundsson are collaborating in product development for the next generation of acoustic products to be produced by Northstar. The Hurley Group of Companies of Conception Bay South and BYKO – the Iceland equivalent of Home Depot – have partnered to market signage products. It has also established a distributor for tiles and partnered with a leading stone company. In November 2007, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and Fly Fresh Freight announced there would be direct non-stop flights weekly from Gander to Iceland that will carry fresh Newfoundland and Labrador seafood cargo to various European markets.

The areas of initial priority identified in the MOU are educational interchange and industrial development in the areas of environmental management and environmental industries, information and communications technology, life sciences, ocean technologies, collaboration in oceans and coastal management initiatives, marine safety and rescue, fisheries and aquaculture, energy, transportation, and cultural and artistic collaborations.


If connections between Iceland and Newfoundland interest you check out the Icelandic translation of Agnes Walsh's poem When I Married Halldór Laxness . Agnes Walsh is a Newfoundland writer and the Poet Laureate of St. John's.

Or download Chris Brookes documentary The Great Circle .