– John Christian Westrey, owner and CEO of furniture maker Vestre, says the SV and center party are at odds with the Norwegian people when it comes to the EVA deal.
– This summer, we received statistics showing that two-thirds of Norway’s population would have voted in favor of the EEA agreement if a new referendum had taken place. So it’s very safe, says Westray TV2 Frame Business.
But the question is, how secure will the EEA deal really be in a new government, with potential allies such as the Labor Party, the Central Party and the Socialist People’s Party. Both SP and SV are strongly critical of the EEA agreement, which should be stopped. Labor is a supporter of the EEA agreement and wants to keep it.
John Christian Westray’s conclusion and clear advice are the same:
– The EEA agreement is very important for Norwegian export companies, he says.
Took over the family business
Westre also speaks from a background in both business and politics: from 2010 to 2012 he was Labor’s political adviser to the Sorting, and he was also Labor’s political adviser to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
But in 2012, he had to make a big choice, as his father died after a short period of cancer. His parents ran Westray, a furniture manufacturer, and when his father became very ill, John Christian, then 25, decided to start a family business.
After nine years on the board, revenue has increased fivefold. Most of the products such as urban furniture, benches and seating areas for public places are now exported internationally. The United States is a fast-growing market for the Norwegian manufacturer, which, among other things, has made a name for itself with its city furniture in Times Square in New York. In recent years, Westray has established its own offices in London, Berlin, New York, Los Angeles and Austin, Texas.
Advice to the Government
Westre believes the new government should set some clear new goals for Norwegian trade policy. He believes the focus should be on strong industries on the mainland – including the furniture industry and the seafood industry – to offset low employment in the oil and gas sector.
– Norway wants to create 250,000 new jobs over the next decade. To double exports from the mainland. Westray says it will further double the value of investments in the landscape, and continues:
– The government should ask the industry to realize these goals in the next decade. Then the government and the business community should work together to develop plans for more offensive and comprehensive businesses, he says.
Advice for companies
Westre believes it will be a high-export solution to create new jobs and more value in Norwegian companies. But then companies need to be more confident and aggressive in selling their products internationally, he believes.
– There are many manufacturers who refuse to travel in Norway. Instead of focusing on the enormous opportunities out there, Westrey says they are more concerned about what could go wrong.
He too may have many opportunities politically – his name has been mentioned as a potential minister in the new government.
– Call the store and ask if you want to be Minister of Commerce and Industry, what do you say?
– John Christian Westray says I have only one plan and that is to continue working at Westray.