Where does the aluminium go and where does the fruit come from?

A new analysis on Iceland’s bilateral trade patterns.

Earlier today the 15 Bilateral Chambers, in cooperation with the Iceland Chamber of Commerce (ICoC) and the Icelandic Ministry for Foreign Affairs, hosted its annual Bilateral Day conference. Due to current restrictions, the meeting was live-streamed in Icelandic.

The headline of the meeting was Where does the aluminium go and where does the fruit come from and the programme focused on a new analysis on Iceland’s bilateral trade patterns, which the ICoC also published today.

The meeting started with an opening speech by Þórdís Kolbrún R. Gylfadóttir, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development Cooperation, followed by a presentation by Konráð S. Guðjónsson, ICoC's chief economist and deputy secretary-general. Closing remarks gave Baldvin Björn Haraldsson, chairman of the international chambers of commerce.

A few highlights from the analysis:

  • The countries our International Chambers work with on strengthened relationships, account for 63% of Iceland's foreign trade. Exports amounted to 44% of GDP in 2019 and are essential for prosperity.
  • The largest trade surplus is with Spain, ISK 86 billion last year. Mainly due to 40% of exported aluminium being shipped to Spain. Meanwhile, 12% of imported fruits and vegetables come from Spain.
  • The largest current trade deficit of goods and services is with Norway, ISK 45 billion last year, reflecting the development of the global oil price as 66% of Iceland’s petroleum imports are from Norway.
  • In 2020, 20% of exported goods went to the Netherlands and about 8% of imported goods came from there. More drastically, 42% of exported aluminium is shipped to the Netherlands and 16% of imported vegetables and fruits come from there. However, it appears that the importance of the Netherlands is being overestimated, mainly because of the importance of Rotterdam as a gateway to Europe.
  • Despite Brexit, bilateral trade with the UK has increased slightly.
  • 47% of the sugar imported to Iceland comes from Denmark.
  • 14% of imported beverages come from Italy, mostly wine we assume.
  • In 2020, cars accounted for 70% of Iceland’s imports from Japan.
  • Between 2015 and 2020, exports to Poland increased by 366%.
  • More than half of revenue from exported R&D, ISK 19 billion, comes from the US.

You can find the analysis here and below is a recording from the meeting, in Icelandic.

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