MARKET: Norway opted out of joining the EU in a referendum in November 1994. However, as a member of the European Economic Area, it still makes a sizeable contribution to the EU budget. The country is richly endowed with natural resources – oil and gas, hydropower, fish, forests, and minerals.
Norway has been heavily reliant on its oil and gas. The petroleum sector provides about 9% of jobs, 12% of GDP, 13% of the state’s revenue, and 37% of exports, according to official national estimates. Oil production in 2016 was close to 50% below its peak in 2000. However, annual gas production more than doubled over the same time period.
There is now an awareness that the oil boom is over and the government has taken money from its sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest, valued at almost $900 billion in early 2017. This is to compensate for lost oil-related business, investing in infrastructure projects and supporting growth in other industries. Norway has received a large share of Chinese inward investment in the Nordic region. The Chinese are especially interested in offshore and hi-tech businesses. Norway is a leading producer and the world’s second largest exporter of seafood, after China. The Japanese market is important for the Norwegian fisheries and fish farms and there are Japanese-owned fish farms in Norway. The transition from oil dependency to a more varied economy creates new opportunities, and Finnish SMEs with fresh ideas should follow these developments.
LANGUAGE: Both English and Swedish work well, but if Norway is your priority, it is worthwhile to consider translating your website and marketing materials into Norwegian. The Norwegians are rightfully proud of their languages – yes, there are two official versions of it – and cultural heritage. Using Norwegian shows that you are committed to the market.
PEOPLE: Like most people from the Nordics, the Norwegians are known for their informality and egalitarianism, more so than the Finnish but less than the Swedes. Still, it is useful to know that Norwegian businesses can be somewhat slow in their communication and to remember that it is best to have all agreements in writing. A mere handshake has more weight in both Finland and Sweden than in Norway.
Seppo Hoffrén Consultancy currently has two consultants covering the Norwegian and other Scandinavian markets.
Top 5 Norway Imports from Finland:
Finland’s exports to Norway amounted to $1.8 billion or 2.4% of its overall imports.
- Machinery: $293.4 million
- Vehicles: $146.5 million
- Electronic equipment: $145.1 million
- Plastics: $133.6 million
- Iron or steel products: $123.8 million
Main import countries: