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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/overseas-business-risk-norway/overseas-business-risk-norway
Information on key security and political risks which UK businesses may face when operating in Norway.
- Full country name: Kingdom of Norway
- Area: 385,252 sq km
- Population: 5.3 million
- Capital city: Oslo – population 673,469 (metropolitan area 1.7 million)
- Language(s): Norwegian, Sami (1.3%).
- Religion: Lutheran (75.2%), Catholic (2.4%), Islam (2.4%)
- Currency: Norwegian krone (NOK)
- Government: Parliamentary constitutional monarchy
- Next parliamentary election: September 2021
- Membership of international groups/organisations: Arctic Council, European Free Trade Association (EFTA), International Monetary Fund (IMF), Interpol, NATO, Nordic Council, OECD, Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Schengen Convention, UN and all the organisations of the United Nations family, World Trade Organisation (WTO). Norway is not a member of the EU.
2. Political context
The system of parliamentary rule means that it is the Parliament (the ‘Storting’) that determines the composition of the Norwegian Government. Parliament introduces legislation, authorises public spending, imposes taxes and controls the work of the Government. There are 169 elected Members of Parliament. Parliamentary elections take place every four years using a proportional representation system. There are no by-elections, nor is there any constitutional provision to dissolve the Storting between elections. The next parliamentary elections will take place in September 2021.
The current government came to power in 2017 and is a minority coalition between the Conservative Progress and Liberal Parties. Norwegian governments tend to be minority or coalition governments, led by either by Labour or one of the centre-right parties.
2.3 Political priorities
Domestically, the government is prioritising tax reform, including lowering business tax, and diversification away from the economy’s reliance on the vast oil and gas sector, as well as investing heavily in infrastructure. Other priorities for 2017 (pending the outcome of the elections) include:
- climate and energy policy
- the High North
- education and research (both domestically and within humanitarian aid)
- humanitarian aid - the humanitarian budget has increased by more than 50% under the present government
- regional consolidation of public services
- sustainable oceans and blue economy
2.4 International relations
Norway is active on many global issues, particularly conflict resolution, counter-terrorism, development assistance and climate change. They are a committed NATO member, and see the alliance as central to their national defence. Contribution in 2017 was 1.54%. Although not an EU member, Norway aligns with many EU foreign policy positions, including on sanctions. Norway participates in the EU single market through the EEA Agreement.
In current times of political and economic change, Norway´s relationships with the UK and the EU remain as important as ever.
Europe is vitally important for Norwegian trade and Norway works hard to influence EU policy where it can. Norway is also a leading aid donor providing 1.14% of GDP to official development assistance (ODA) and active in international peace and reconciliation processes.
Oil and gas exports and related services, energy intensive industries and manufacturing, fisheries and shipping keep Norway in the top ten highest per capita wealth in the world. The decline in oil prices since 2014 has impacted the economy and stimulated efforts to diversify. Although the Norwegian continental shelf has decades of production to come, the current government is keen to support a transition towards sustainable economic activities. Norway has a long tradition of state ownership, which the current government is looking to moderately reduce.
GDP grew by 1.4% in 2018 and is currently at 665.378 NOK per capita. Consumer price index is at 2.5%. Unemployment is at 3.8 % of labour force. Household debt is at 238.5% of disposable income, while government debt is at 45.5% of GDP. Household savings were at 6.52% of household disposable income. Labour compensation per hour worked saw a 3.1% growth rate in 2018. Trade in goods and services accounted for 38.1% of GDP.
4. Business and human rights
In Norway, human rights are protected under the Constitution, the Human Rights Act and specific legislation in certain areas. In the event of conflict with domestic law, the provisions of the UN conventions incorporated through the Human Rights Act prevail over other Norwegian legislation.
The Norwegian Anti-Discrimination Act prohibits direct and indirect discrimination based on ethnicity, national origin, family background, skin colour, language, religion and belief. Norwegian society is characterised by a high level of gender equality, coming second in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2017.
Trade union membership is common in Norway (52%), and two thirds of employees are covered by a collective agreement. Norway has been the destination for large-scale labour migration from EU countries in Eastern and Central Europe, presenting some challenges for authorities to ensure foreign workers enjoy wages and labour conditions that are in accordance with Norwegian legislation and collective agreements. There is no statutory minimum wage in Norway.
Norway is a member of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPs), an initiative involving governments, companies, and non-governmental organizations that promotes implementation of a set of principles that guide oil, gas and mining companies on providing security for their operations in a manner that respects human rights. Norway is also a Member State of the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers (ICoC) Association, an initiative working with private security companies to set out international principles and standards for the responsible provision of private security services.
Norway hosts the secretariat of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). This organisation works for good governance and transparency in the oil, gas and mining industries, and the countries benefiting from them. The focus of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is as prominent in Norway as in the UK.
5. Bribery and corruption
Bribery is illegal. It is an offence for British nationals or someone who is ordinarily resident in the UK, a body incorporated in the UK or a Scottish partnership, to bribe anywhere in the world.
In addition, a commercial organisation carrying on a business in the UK can be liable for the conduct of a person who is neither a UK national or resident in the UK or a body incorporated or formed in the UK. In this case it does not matter whether the acts or omissions which form part of the offence take place in the UK or elsewhere.
In 2017 Norway ranked third in the Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI), Recent media headlines covering corruption in Norwegian companies´international operations, as well as domestic incidents of unjustified entertainment have intensified public scrutiny on bribery and corruption.
Visit the Business Anti-Corruption Portal providing advice and guidance about corruption and some basic effective procedures you can establish to protect your company from them. Also read the information provided on our Bribery and Corruption page.
6. Terrorism threat
Please read the information provided on our Terrorism threat page.
7. Protective security advice
Updated information is available on the FCO Travel Advice service.
8. Intellectual property
Norwegian IP legislation mirrors that of the EU and Norway is also party to most important international conventions in the area of intellectual property rights, including the TRIPS Agreement, the Paris Convention, the Berne Convention, the Patent Cooperation Treaty and the European Patent Convention (EPC).
For information about obtaining patents in Norway, please contact:
PO Box 8160
Dep. N-0033 Oslo
Sandakerveien 64, 0484 Oslo
Phone: + 47 22 38 73 00 (switchboard)
Fax: + 47 22 38 73 01
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (all enquiries)
9. Department for International Trade (DIT) contact
Please contact DIT Norway through DIT.Norway@fco.gov.uk for any general enquiries or business risk concerns.