Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland met with Members of the United States Congress, National Security Council and the State Department in Washington D.C. last week to discuss means to achieve a closer commercial and trade relationship between Iceland and the United States and present Iceland´s chairmanship program in the Arctic Council.
The Minister met with key allies in Congress. Among them Senator Shelby, Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, and Senators Kennedy and Manchin. The Arctic and mutual interest in protecting the oceans figured high on the agenda in meetings with Senator Whitehouse, Senator Murkowski and representative Larsen, Chair of the Arctic Working Group. The Minister also met with Senator King and Representative Pingree from Maine, a state that Iceland has a strong bond and special trade relationship with. One of Iceland´s largest shipping company, Eimskip, runs it´s North-America operations out of Portland, creating direct shipping connections, jobs and trade opportunities.
„Iceland and the United State have a long-standing and solid relationship and share cultural, economic and political values. The US is our single largest trading partner and US citizens are the largest group of tourists to visit Iceland. Furthermore, we have many mutual interests in the Arctic. During my meetings at the Capitol this week I have emphasised the importance of granting Icelandic citizens E-1 and E-2 visas for investors and traders and look at possibilities to further strengthen our relationship through an agreement on trade. Furthermore, we wish to work more closely with our friends and allies in the US Congress with the establishment of an congressional Friends of Iceland Caucus,“ said Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson after two busy and productive days in the capital.
Trade was a key topic when Foreign Minister Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson and Mike Pence, Vice President of the United States, met in Reykjavík earlier this month. Earlier this summer, the inaugural Economic Dialogue between the United States and Iceland took place in Reykjavík, following the meeting of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with Foreign Minister Thórdarson in February. Moreover, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and an interagency delegation from Iceland led by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs convened in Reykjavík for a trade dialogue in June.