The Arctic Institute Reaction to free trade agreement between China and Iceland

Washington DC, April 15 2013 - In response to the signing of a free trade agreement between China and Iceland today, The Arctic Institute’s Executive Director Malte Humpert said

“The free trade agreement between these two countries is a clear sign of the China’s continuing drive to gain a foothold in the Arctic region. Iceland's strategically valuable location at the entrance to the Arctic Ocean and its year-round ice free waters make it a natural ally in China's goal to gain access to the Arctic's shipping routes. The signing of the agreement today is a further indication of the importance China places in the development of Arctic shipping routes”.

“Iceland's role as a potential Arctic shipping hub may be further strengthened by future mining and mineral activity in neighboring Greenland. Following Greenland's recent election, Chinese investments in the island's mining industry appear more likely, and the required infrastructure and the export of mining products would make use of Icelandic ports.” 

“China’s recent political and economic efforts in the region indicate that it regards the Arctic’s smaller states as key in its overall approach, either because of their strategic location (for instance Iceland) or because of their resource-related possibilities ( for example Sweden and Denmark-Greenland).” 

“China’s interest in gaining Permanent Observer Status to the Arctic Council – the region’s most important intergovernmental forum – is an essential part of its regional strategy, and illustrates China’s major concern of being excluded from future Arctic governance, and being unable to influence regional agenda-setting and development”, concluded Humpert.

Malte Humpert, Washington, D.C., +1 202.352.8162
Andreas Raspotnik, Brussels,, +49 157.7738.9406