Nor­way eyes prof­itable prospects in tra­di­tional, emerg­ing sec­tors

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA INTERNATIONAL IMPORT EXPO - By REN XIAOJIN in Shang­hai renx­i­ao­jin@chi­

Nor­way is eye­ing more busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties in China in sec­tors rang­ing from its tra­di­tional strengths, such as fish­eries, to emerg­ing ones like ser­vices as the bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship deep­ens, a top of­fi­cial has said.

Af­ter lis­ten­ing to Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping’s key­note speech at the open­ing of the China In­ter­na­tional Im­port Expo in Shang­hai on Mon­day, Mag­nus Thue, state sec­re­tary to Nor­way’s min­is­ter for trade and in­dus­try, said he was pleased to hear the pres­i­dent’s “un­equiv­o­cal and force­ful mes­sage” about China open­ing its mar­ket wider to the world.

Thue said there are a num­ber of sec­tors with huge po­ten­tial for China and Nor­way to work on.

“In the past, bi­lat­eral trade was mainly Nor­way out­putting raw ma­te­ri­als and buy­ing cheap con­sumer goods from China,” he said. “But times have changed, and both sides have much to learn from each other.”

He said trade in ser­vices ac­counts for only a small part of bi­lat­eral trade but has huge po­ten­tial, with Nor­way able to pro­vide qual­ity tourism prod­ucts and mar­itime ser­vices.

“For the mar­itime sec­tor, we have a lot of ex­per­tise, as we are an all-mar­itime coun­try,” Thue said. “Even as a small coun­try we are among the big­gest ship­ping na­tions in the world.”

Jan­ica Xiang, CEO of Yix­i­ang Travel, a com­pany based in Oslo, the cap­i­tal of Nor­way, pre­dicted that travel to the Scan­di­na­vian na­tion will be­come pop­u­lar among Chi­nese in the next few years.

“Travel habits are chang­ing. The younger gen­er­a­tions don’t like to do group tours any­more, and they are grow­ing fond of liv­ing like a lo­cal,” said Xiang, whose com­pany missed out on a booth at the on­go­ing expo in Shang­hai be­cause the ser­vices trade ex­hi­bi­tion hall was fully booked.

She said that as Nor­way is not the first op­tion that comes to Chi­nese tourists’ minds when think­ing about trav­el­ing in Eu­rope, most of those who go there have al­ready vis­ited pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tions like France.

“The travel prod­ucts are mainly medium- to high-end ones,” she said. “Nor­way is a place to have a re­laxed hol­i­day and ex­pe­ri­ence an­other life­style, which matches the pro­file of those who would think about go­ing to Nor­way.”

Xiang said Nor­way’s pro­file as a tourism des­ti­na­tion is ex­pected to grow in China as snow sports be­come more pop­u­lar.

Michael Chen, co-founder of Nord­kost, an e-com­merce plat­form and mar­ket­ing ser­vice provider based in Oslo, said the true po­ten­tial of Nor­way’s ex­ports to China is yet to be dis­cov­ered.

“Ac­cord­ing to our re­search, Nor­we­gian com­pa­nies can be di­vided into two parts: Those who are al­ready in China and have done well; and those mak­ing up about 90 per­cent of Nor­we­gian com­pa­nies who know China is big but have no idea how to en­ter,” he said.

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