Iceland would welcome Britain into EFTA after Brexit - Iceland foreign minister

Iceland's Minister of Foreign Affairs Lilja Alfredsdottir speaks during a high-level meeting on addressing large movements of refugees and migrants at the United Nations General Assembly in Manhattan, New York, U.S. September 19, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

LONDON (Reuters) - Iceland would welcome Britain, its biggest trading partner, back into the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), Icelandic Foreign Minister Lilja Alfredsdottir said on Wednesday in London.

“The EFTA countries might make an agreement with the UK,” she said. “We are chairing the EFTA right now and I put it as a priority to analyse the possibilities that EFTA had on this front.”

Alfredsdottir emphasised the importance of Iceland’s trade ties with Britain.

“The UK is our largest trading partner - 11 percent of our exports and imports go to this market,” she said at a talk at the London School of Economics when asked about British-Icelandic relations after Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.

She said an agreement with EFTA was one of three possibilities for Iceland-British relations after Brexit. The other two were a bilateral agreement with Britain, and an agreement with European Economic Area (EEA) countries.

Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland make up the EFTA trade organisation and free trade area which is also part of the European single market and the EEA. Britain was a co-founder of EFTA in 1960 and left in 1972 to join what was then the European Economic Community.

Reporting by Helen Reid; Editing by Angus MacSwan