We need to connect more closely with our closest trading partners – E24

We need to connect more closely with our closest trading partners – E24

International trade has served us well. Now these systems are under pressure. It requires action.

  • John Christian Westray
    John Christian Westray

    Minister of Industries (AP)

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It is a history

Chronicles reveal the writer’s attitude.

Norway depends on trade with other countries. Most of our daily needs are imported from foreign countries. And many Norwegian jobs are built around the goods and services we sell abroad.

By 2022, one in five jobs will be in the export sector, either selling salmon to 140 countries or working to deliver gas to Europe. This is how it should be in a small open economy like ours.

International trade has created better choice, competition and lower prices for all of us, thereby contributing to the prosperity of this country. Now we see the international trading system under pressure. Much of what we previously took for granted is now in motion.

The background is complex. In recent years, we’ve seen a global pandemic, Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, as well as the rivalry between the US and China, and now a resurgence of violent conflict in the Middle East. Developments in trade policy have also led to a change of course with some of our closest trading partners. Great power competition and security policy have returned with renewed vigour. At the same time, we are going through a green transition that also has geopolitical dimensions.

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In the geopolitical waters we now enter, the importance of close, international partnerships is greater than ever. The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the cornerstone of international trade.

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For Norway, the EEA Agreement is our most comprehensive trade agreement, as it makes us part of Europe’s single market. In addition, our bilateral free trade agreements with more than 40 countries and territories help increase market access and competitiveness of Norwegian companies internationally.

We are prioritizing free trade agreements and I want to speed up negotiations with India.

But we now see the need to align ourselves closely with our closest trading partners through strategic collaborations. We have an industrial partnership with Germany, which we want to further develop, and we are working to strengthen cooperation with the US and the Nordic countries. We are also working to establish industrial partnerships with the UK, France and Japan.

The industrial partnership will promote Norwegian business and strengthen cooperation with our trading partners in areas critical to the green transition. The partnership is based on the Government’s green industry promotion and the sectors involved. Priorities and areas of effort will vary over time and across markets, depending on available collaboration opportunities.

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This will be discussed at this year’s climate conference

The world is going through a green transition where the entire economy needs to decarbonize. This means that Norwegian business is well positioned to contribute with smart solutions and new technology, both here at home and globally. But to succeed, Norwegian companies have the same access to international markets as their competitors.

So the time has come to put trade policy high on the agenda.

Recently, for the first time, the government presented an account of trade policy to the Storting. In short, our message to Storting and business is that there must be a holistic approach to both the challenges and opportunities resulting from the trade policy changes we see around us.

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Strengthening Norway’s trade policy partnership will be an important task in the future. That is why I have also initiated a report to the Storting on green globalization and trade, where we will clarify Norway’s trade policy priorities. I welcome input on how best to address the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities resulting from this development.

The challenge going forward is to find the right balance between preserving open and rule-based markets, preserving security and minimizing vulnerability. In a worst-case scenario, we may lose many of the benefits that increased trade and globalization have brought us.

This also affects us in Norway. And, in other words, it’s not something we can just sit back and watch as faith goes away. It requires action.

Joshi Akinjide

Joshi Akinjide

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