The Norwegian economy is dominated by the oil and gas industry,
which accounts for nearly 20 per cent of GDP and 60 per cent of
In Norway there is little cultivable land, however many farmers
breed livestock, combining this with forestry to supply Norway’s
numerous sawmills. Wood products
and paper are both thriving industries in the country.
Offshore fishing has been in decline for some time, although a large
number of fish farms have now been established, making Norway by
far the world’s largest supplier of salmon.
Heavy engineering industries, principally shipbuilding
and machinery, have also declined. Nonetheless,
the country has sustained its economic prosperity outside the European
Union through development of a strong energy sector.
Norway has abundant hydroelectric resources: the
development of these has allowed much-reduced overheads for heavy
industries such as aluminium production while freeing
oil and gas products for export.
Norway has been a major oil and gas exporter since the 1970s, after
discovering large deposits of both in the North Sea.
Proven oil reserves are approximately 11 billion barrels (one-tenth
of Saudi reserves and 1 per cent of the world total). Much of the
income is invested in a fund, which is now worth over US$40 billion,
for such time (perhaps for 15-20 years) as the oil and gas last.
The country also has deposits of various iron ores
plus copper, lead and zinc, which
feed the country’s metallurgical and chemical industries.
During the last few years Norway has seen the emergence of advanced
The UK, Germany and Sweden are
Norway’s main trading partners. Norway is a member of the
European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and hence
the so-called ‘European Economic Area’,
which is an amalgam of EU and EFTA members united in a free-trade
zone and created during 1991. Concern about the possible effects
on the fishing and farming industries lay behind the Norwegians’
decision – registered in 2 referendums, in 1973 and 1994 –
to reject EU membership. Nonetheless, with the exception of these
two industries, Norway enjoys a liberalised trade regime with EU
members, and conducts 70 per cent of its trade with the EU. Recent
economic performance has been a little sluggish. Growth barely reached
1 per cent during 2001 and 2002. Inflation and unemployment during
2002 were 1.3 and 4 per cent respectively.
Businesspeople tend to dress smartly. Prior appointments are necessary
and Norwegian businesspeople can be reserved and formal. English
is widely spoken in Norway and punctuality is essential. Calling
cards are very common. The best months for visits on business are
February to May and October to December.
hours: Monday-Friday 0800-1600 hrs.
The following organisation can offer advice:
Telephone number: (22) 002 500
Fax number: (22) 002 501
5 Lower Regent Street
Telephone number: (020) 7389 8800
Fax number: (020) 7973 0189
Information is available from the Norwegian