Nor­way’s Min­is­ter of Fish­eries, H.E. Mr Per Sand­berg talked on Fish, Free Trade and Busi­ness Po­ten­tial.

Nor­we­gian seafood ex­ports hit record highs both in value and vol­ume last year. This is ex­pected to grow even fur­ther in 2018, but there is more to the in­dus­try than the fi­nal prod­uct.

Norway-Asia Business Review - - Contents - CHEYENNE HOL­LIS

Nor­we­gian seafood re­mains in de­mand from global con­sumers with the coun­try ex­port­ing 2.6 mil­lion tonnes, worth a to­tal of NOK 94.5 bil­lion, in 2017.

H.E. Mr Per Sand­berg, Nor­way’s Min­is­ter of Fish­eries, pre­dicts that fish­ing ex­ports will con­tinue to grow for the fore­see­able fu­ture.

“This year we will hope­fully see an ex­port value of NOK 100 bil­lion when it comes to seafood,” Mr Sand­berg ex­plains. “In 2050, it will be NOK 500-600 bil­lion higher than the oil and gas sec­tor. This growth is good, but it presents chal­lenges too. We must get more value out of each fish and ex­tract more value out from the re­sources.”

And while seafood re­mains a vi­tal cog for Nor­way’s econ­omy, there is more to it than sim­ply the fish as an end prod­uct. Through­out this year’s Nor­way-Asia Busi­ness Sum­mit, the role of dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion in all in­dus­tries was men­tioned. Fish­ing and aqua­cul­ture are not im­mune from its in­flu­ence. In fact, it is an area where the coun­try can use its knowl­edge to es­tab­lish it­self as a global leader.

“Seafood is im­por­tant. It will al­ways be im­por­tant for the econ­omy and ex­ports of Nor­way, but it is not the only thing. The value of knowl­edge, man­age­ment and re­search, in both fish­ing and aqua­cul­ture, is im­por­tant,” Mr Sand­berg re­ports. “But the value of this is zero if you don’t share it. For some coun­tries, these three things from Nor­way are more im­por­tant than the ac­tual fish.”

Nor­way ex­ported 539,000 tonnes of seafood to Asia in 2017. The to­tal value of the ex­ports was worth NOK 18.7 bil­lion, an in­crease of eight per­cent from 2016. De­mand for fish­ing ex­ports from Asia will re­main steady, but there is po­ten­tial be­yond this for the in­dus­try.

“When it comes to Asia, there is still big po­ten­tial for ex­port­ing seafood. It is not just trout and salmon, but all species,” Mr Sand­berg says. “There is also a lot of po­ten­tial to ex­port fish­ing tech­nol­ogy and fish­ing man­age­ment knowl­edge to Asia. It is more than seafood. The end prod­uct is very im­por­tant to the re­gion, but it is not every­thing. In some other mar­kets, it is only about tech­nol­ogy and knowl­edge. In re­gards to Asia, Nor­way can ex­port fish, tech­nol­ogy and knowl­edge.”

The Min­is­ter be­lieves the part­ner­ship be­tween Asia and Nor­way is very im­por­tant when it comes to de­vel­op­ing new tech­nol­ogy and in­no­va­tion. This is for both the seafood in­dus­try as well as other sec­tors.

“I can see so much po­ten­tial in so many ar­eas. Seafood goes first, but then every­thing else can fol­low this,” Mr Sand­berg notes. “The tech­nol­ogy. The knowl­edge. All of this will help the part­ner­ship be­tween Nor­way and Asia grow.”

The ocean con­tin­ues to play a big role in Nor­way’s econ­omy. Ac­cord­ing to Mr Sand­berg, ocean in­dus­tries ac­count

for more than 70 per­cent of the coun­try’s ex­port earn­ings, but it is also un­der pres­sure. The Ocean Econ­omy in 2030, a re­port from the OECD, noted that the ocean econ­omy has room to grow, but how this hap­pens will be im­por­tant.

“Fu­ture growth de­pends on our abil­ity to make and take from the ocean. We be­lieve in blue growth the green way. It must be done in a sus­tain­able and re­spon­si­ble way,” Mr Sand­berg says. “The best way to pro­tect the ocean is through re­spon­si­ble use. We share this view with our friends in Asia.”

Big po­ten­tial for the small

firms One of the key take­aways from this year’s Sum­mit was the fact that ex­pand­ing into Asia was no longer lim­ited to Nor­way’s large cor­po­ra­tions. Thanks to dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion, smaller Nor­we­gian firms are now able to find op­por­tu­ni­ties in Asia and else­where in the world.

These op­por­tu­ni­ties aren’t lim­ited to the fish­ing or ship­ping in­dus­tries. The path, which has been trav­elled by large com­pa­nies, is now ac­ces­si­ble to ev­ery­one.

“Our big com­pa­nies, such as Sta­toil and Te­lenor, have be­come global lead­ers and their ex­per­tise has opened new mar­kets to Nor­we­gian small and mid­sized busi­nesses,” Mr Sand­berg states. “With big Nor­we­gian com­pa­nies al­ready op­er­at­ing in South­east Asia, it makes it eas­ier for oth­ers to come in.”

The spirit of co­op­er­a­tion be­tween both big com­pa­nies and smaller ones in Nor­way is another im­por­tant part of the proc­cess. Small and mid-sized com­pa­nies can look to In­no­va­tion Nor­way, the lo­cal em­bassies and busi­nesses al­ready based in Asia for sup­port.

“There are no closed doors. Re­search, gov­ern­ment and busi­ness, we all work to­gether. This makes us unique and helps small and mid-sized com­pa­nies go abroad,” Mr Sand­berg ex­plains. “The po­ten­tial is huge from small and mid­dle­sized com­pa­nies. The op­por­tu­nity is now there for them to take ad­van­tage of.”

Ad­di­tion­ally, GIEK and Ex­port Credit Nor­way are help­ing es­tab­lish more Nor­we­gian com­pa­nies abroad. Mr Sand­berg points out that GIEK, the Nor­we­gian ex­port credit guar­an­tee agency, can not only guar­an­tee fi­nanc­ing for the ex­port­ing of tech­nol­ogy or prod­ucts, but ser­vices as well. This is some­thing the Min­is­ter hopes more busi­nesses utilise in the fu­ture.

Trade looms Trade loomed large at the Nor­wayAsia Busi­ness Sum­mit. Both Nor­way and host coun­try Singapore are strong pro­po­nents of free trade. How­ever, the con­tin­u­ing sabre rat­tling over trade be­tween the US and China has pushed the is­sue to the fore­front.

“To­day, the shadow of pro­tec­tion­ism is loom­ing over world trade. It can lead to a neg­a­tive spi­ral with trade bar­ri­ers be­ing put up from sev­eral coun­tries. Pro­tec­tion­ism comes at a very high cost,” Mr Sand­berg de­tails. “Nor­way has a strong com­mit­ment to free global trade as well as in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion and peace.”

At home, Nor­way is look­ing for ways to im­prove mar­ket ac­cess with its big­gest trad­ing part­ner, the Euro­pean Union.

“We don’t even have free trade with the EU and they are our big­gest trad­ing part­ner,” Mr Sand­berg notes. “There are still some chal­lenges and we are work­ing on them to re­move these trade bar­ri­ers. At the mo­ment the EU can ex­port any­thing to Nor­way for free when it comes to fish and seafood. When we ex­port these prod­ucts to Europe, we have to pay taxes.”

In Asia, Nor­way con­tin­ues to work on cre­at­ing free trade agree­ments via the Euro­pean Free Trade As­so­ci­a­tion (EFTA). Agree­ments are al­ready in place with Singapore, Korea, Hong Kong and the Philip­pines. The EFTA is cur­rently con­duct­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions with Malaysia, In­done­sia and Viet­nam to set up agree­ments. Nor­way is in bi­lat­eral ne­go­ti­a­tions on a free trade agree­ment with China

“It takes a lot of time to reach a trade agree­ment and talks are pro­gress­ing with In­done­sia, Malaysia and Viet­nam. We’ve been work­ing on these for years and it is a lot of work be­fore reach­ing an agree­ment,” Mr Sand­berg points out. “I hope with the ASEAN, Singapore can be a part­ner for us in the re­gion. It will make things smoother and more ef­fec­tive. We be­lieve our agree­ment with them is ben­e­fi­cial for both of us.”

Ul­ti­mately, Nor­way re­mains com­mit­ted to free trade even in light of global events. This is a stance Singapore also holds and the pair is hope­ful other coun­tries don’t sac­ri­fice long-term pros­per­ity for the short-term ben­e­fits pro­tec­tion­ism can bring.

“All coun­tries should work on free trade. Free trade is im­por­tant for us and for the world,” Mr Sand­berg.

PHOTO: NBAS/ALEX JANU PHO­TOG­RA­PHY

PHOTO: NOR­WE­GIAN SEAFOOD COUN­CIL/JO­HAN WILDHAGEN

Above left: Nor­way’s Min­is­ter of Fish­eries, H.E. Mr Per Sand­berg de­liv­er­ing his open­ing re­marks. Above: Aqua­cul­ture is on of Nor­way’s suc­cess sto­ries en­abling the coun­try to be­come the world’s sec­ond largest seafood ex­porter.

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