Free Trade Agreement leads to Iceland’s quest to China’s huge markets

Brim of Reykjavík is Iceland’s largest fishing company, along with Samherji based in the north. Brim is Iceland’s only major publicly listed fishing company. Its fleet of eight ships catch approximately 150,000 tons of fish per year.

Guðmundur Kristjánsson
Guðmundur Kristjánsson – CEO of Brím

When Iceland became the first European nation to sign a Free Trade Agreement with China in 2013, Brim took the lead within Iceland’s fishing industry in exploring opportunities in Asia and in China specifically. Brim operates Icelandic China, a marketing and sales firm in Quingdoa, where the Olympic sailing competitions took place, in addition to Icelandic Japan and Icelandic Hong Kong. The Chinese love seafood and it is estimated that they consume 37% of world’s consumption and it is growing quite dramatically, outweighing Europe, North-America, Latin-America and Africa by far.

Still early days in China

Iceland has traditionally exported its fish to Europe, the United States and Russia. It is still early days for Icelandic seafood companies trading fish in Asia and Guðmundur Kristjánsson, CEO of Brim, stresses that the company is learning its trade in China. “Iceland has much to offer to the emerging markets in Asia. China is of specific interest to us. We need to learn to please the Chinese customers and handle the fish the way they like; whether it be fresh or frozen, whole or fillets. We firmly believe that the Chinese will take to our fish. The markets are huge and we know that the Chinese people appreciate quality seafood. It is basically a question whether we are quick enough learners to offer the quality and right products at the right time. If we are, then I’m confident we will establish a long term commercial relationship with China. We certainly want to be part of China’s march towards prosperity,” Mr. Kristjánsson says.

“We really do care”

“We firmly believe that Icelandic fish are the best in the world. The Fishery Managing System is the key to Iceland’s green sustainable fishing. The fishing industry has been revolutionized since Iceland won the Cod Wars back in the late seventies. We constantly pursue ways to improve the system and be responsible in our approach to Iceland’s rich fishing grounds while delivering excellence and quality. We know what is at stake, since the fishing industry is of immense importance to the welfare of Iceland’s inhabitants. We really do care,” says Guðmundur Kristjánsson CEO of Brim.

The Cod War