Norway-Asia Business Review - - Contents - ANRIKE VISSER

Chang­ing tides in the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Nor­way and China is cre­at­ing a wave of op­por­tu­ni­ties for both Nor­we­gian com­pa­nies in China and Chi­nese com­pa­nies in Nor­way. Busi­ness Re­view fol­lows sev­eral sto­ries on the side­lines of the Nor­we­gian of­fi­cial visit to China. Pages 6-13.

Nor­way and China have a long, joint his­tory. Nor­way was among the first Western coun­tries to es­tab­lish diplo­matic re­la­tions with China, in 1954. But our com­mon his­tory goes far be­yond this date. For in­stance, the Nor­we­gian com­pany DNV – Det Norske Ver­i­tas - estab­lished its first of­fice in Xi­a­men in 1888. Nor­we­gian ships made reg­u­lar vis­its to Chi­nese ports long be­fore that.”

We talked with the am­bas­sador about more re­cent de­vel­op­ments in the Nor­way-China re­la­tion­ship. “There is an ex­pressed wish by our two Gov­ern­ments to move our re­la­tion­ship for­ward to­ward in­creased co­op­er­a­tion and di­a­logue on a broad range of top­ics in the wake of the nor­mal­i­sa­tion [of the re­la­tion­ship]. This was clearly il­lus­trated dur­ing the visit of Nor­way’s Prime Min­is­ter Erna Sol­berg to China in April. The agenda for her po­lit­i­cal meet­ings were very com­pre­hen­sive, but I think it is fair to say that our eco­nomic and trade re­la­tions were some of the key items.

A very im­por­tant out­come of the visit was that our two coun­tries agreed to re­sume the ne­go­ti­a­tions on a bi­lat­eral free trade agree­ment. We have great hopes that this agree­ment will re­sult in in­creased trade and in­vest­ments both ways, as well as eas­ier ac­cess for Nor­we­gian en­ter­prises to the Chi­nese mar­ket.

The most im­por­tant ac­com­plish­ments on the busi­ness side were the sign­ing of sev­eral busi­ness agree­ments and con­tracts be­tween Nor­we­gian and Chi­nese com­pa­nies. Six agree­ments on Gov­ern­ment level were also signed. This will give Nor­we­gian com­pa­nies im­proved ac­cess to na­tional and pro­vin­cial part­ners all over China in open­ing up news busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Dur­ing the visit to China by the Prime Min­is­ter and the huge busi­ness del­e­ga­tion that ac­com­pa­nied her, sev­eral sem­i­nars were held. They high­lighted busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties within a wide range of rel­e­vant sec­tors where Nor­we­gian com­pa­nies are highly com­pet­i­tive. The sem­i­nars were, more­over, ex­cel­lent networking op­por­tu­ni­ties for Nor­we­gian and Chi­nese busi­ness­men and women.” Com­ple­men­tary Economies

Ac­cord­ing to the web­site of the Royal Nor­we­gian Em­bassy in Bei­jing, “there are close to 200 Nor­we­gian com­pa­nies in China. Two Nor­we­gian busi­ness or­ga­ni­za­tions; the the Nor­we­gian Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion in Shang­hai and Bei­jing and the Nor­we­gian Cham­ber of Com­merce in Hong Kong, con­trib­ute to the suc­cess of Nor­we­gian com­pa­nies and in­di­vid­u­als do­ing busi­ness in China, and are im­por­tant part­ners to the Em­bassy and the Con­sulates.”

Am­bas­sador Sæther ex­plains fur­ther, “many Nor­we­gian com­pa­nies are well-estab­lished in China and have been oper­at­ing here for many years. For them, the nor­mal­i­sa­tion is im­por­tant as it can strengthen their re­la­tions to lo­cal, pro­vin­cial and na­tional au­thor­i­ties and state owned com­pa­nies.

As Nor­way and China have com­ple­men­tary economies, we be­lieve both will ben­e­fit greatly from in­creased trade and eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion. This goes in par­tic­u­lar for seafood and fish farm­ing, but also sec­tors like oil and gas, mar­itime and en­vi­ron­ment are likely to ben­e­fit.

Nor­way’s com­pet­i­tive edge is in par­tic­u­lar in our ad­vanced off­shore and mar­itime tech­nol­ogy. When look­ing at the Nor­we­gian ge­og­ra­phy, it be­comes ev­i­dent that Nor­we­gian busi­nesses are tra­di­tion­ally re­lated to the sea. Through­out all times we have taken ad­van­tage of ev­ery­thing it has to of­fer. This has pro­vided us with a strong econ­omy and world lead­ing com­pe­tence in the off­shore and mar­itime sec­tors as well as in seafood.

In the mar­itime sec­tor, our two coun­tries have worked to­gether for a long time. With Nor­way as a ship­ping na­tion and China as the world’s largest man­u­fac­turer of ships, there are great mu­tual ben­e­fits to be reaped from an ex­tended co­op­er­a­tion in this sec­tor. I see a great po­ten­tial for win-win syn­er­gies.

China is by now the largest ship­build­ing na­tion in the world. Nor­way is highly com­pet­i­tive with re­spect to mar­itime op­er­a­tions, de­sign and equip­ment, giv­ing our coun­tries a great po­ten­tial for trade and co­op­er­a­tion in these fields.

Long term think­ing and per­se­ver­ance are key. Most of the com­pa­nies with suc­cess in China have been in the coun­try for a long time. They think in long terms, which is also the Chi­nese ap­proach to busi­ness. Hence, for new­com­ers it will be use­ful to talk to com­pa­nies that have been in China for a while, in or­der to be able to draw on their ex­pe­ri­ence.” High-End Con­sumers Mar­ket

China is the largest con­sumers mar­ket in the world, closely fol­lowed only by In­dia which will sur­pass China the next decades ac­cord­ing to the United Na­tions’ World Pop­u­la­tion Prospects, 2015 Re­vi­sion. The Chi­nese con­sumer mar­ket of 1.3 bil­lion peo­ple is par­tic­u­larly in­ter­est­ing for Nor­we­gian busi­nesses ac­cord­ing to Am­bas­sador Sæther.

“[I]t is not only for the seafood sec­tor that I see a bright fu­ture. I see a great po­ten­tial for ev­ery­thing re­lated to health and nu­tri­tion. A good ex­am­ple is off course Omega 3, the nu­tri­tious oil har­vested from ma­rine prod­ucts. Nor­way has a lot to of­fer to the fast grow­ing, high-end con­sumers mar­ket. We see an in­creased in­ter­est for prod­ucts that are pure and clean. One such prod­uct that has been warmly wel­comed to China is pure Nor­we­gian nat­u­ral wa­ter, like Voss.

Other ar­eas are also of in­ter­est. “China is def­i­nitely do­ing a lot on en­ergy and re­new­able en­ergy. It is im­pres­sive how China has be­come the world’s largest in­vestor in both wind and so­lar en­ergy. Nor­way and China have been strate­gic part­ners for a long time in the field of en­ergy and re­new­able en­ergy, and we have a well-estab­lished co­op­er­a­tion in en­vi­ron­ment and cli­mate re­lated is­sues that goes back to the mid1990ies. This in­cludes re­search and de­vel­op­ment. There are many close ties in the field of en­vi­ron­men­tal re­search and de­vel­op­ment projects be­tween our coun­tries. Re­new­able en­ergy is in­deed high on the agenda in Nor­way.”

Val­ued In­vest­ments

The China Global In­vest­ment Tracker pub­lished by American En­ter­prise In­sti­tute and the Her­itage Foun­da­tion, states that China in­vested a record-break­ing USD 56 bil­lion in Europe in 2016. Glob­ally, China in­vested USD 245.5 bil­lion in 2016.

In the same pe­riod China in­vested USD 55.2 bil­lion in the USA and USD 56.4 bil­lion in Africa and the Arab Mid­dle East. Since 2005 China has in­vested USD 227.8 bil­lion in Europe.

The re­la­tion­ship with China is also im­por­tant in Nor­way, ac­cord­ing to the am­bas­sador. “Nor­way has been open for Chi­nese in­vest­ments for many years. In fact, Nor­way needs the for­eign di­rect in­vest­ments (FDI) and 25 per­cent of the value cre­ation in Nor­way stems from FDI.

China has made sev­eral suc­cess­ful in­vest­ments in Nor­way in re­cent years. I can here men­tion two in par­tic­u­lar: In 2008, COSL bought Awilco Off­shore, which is a world lead­ing oil ser­vice com­pany. In 2012, China Na­tional Blues­tar bought ELKEM, a lead­ing com­pany within metal in­dus­try. When these two com­pa­nies got new Chi­nese own­ers, they re­mained in Nor­way, as did the solid com­pe­tence and skills that they had ac­cu­mu­lated.

Based on what I have heard, the com­pa­nies are happy with their new own­ers, and the Nor­we­gian em­ploy­ees are happy to re­main with the com­pa­nies. The new Chi­nese man­age­ment has con­tin­ued to de­velop the firms and kept their base in Nor­way. I am glad to see that af­ter sev­eral years, their com­pet­i­tive­ness re­mains in­tact.”

With the re­cent nor­mal­i­sa­tion of the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Nor­way and China doors opens once more for col­lab­o­ra­tion and in­vest­ments in both coun­tries, be­fit­ting the long re­la­tion­ship be­tween the two coun­tries. Am­bas­sador . Sæther con­cludes “We see a lot of promis­ing de­vel­op­ment for both Nor­way and China in the years to come.”


Nor­we­gian’s am­bas­sador to China, Mr Svein O. Sæther looks back on the lengthy re­la­tion­ship Nor­way has with China.


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