Opening speech by Prime Minister Erna Solberg at the Indian-Norwegian Solutions for Sustainable Growth-seminar in New Delhi, 7 January 2019.
Check against delivery
A warm welcome to all the representatives of Norwegian and Indian companies and organisations who are here today.
All of you who are trading, negotiating, cooperating and solving problems together, are helping to bring India and Norway closer – every day.
When India declared its independence in 1947, Norway was among the first to recognise it as a sovereign nation.
Both India and Norway have undergone significant changes – politically and economically – since then.
Something that has not changed, however, is our friendship. It is equally strong today.
Although the size of our countries is different, our economies complement one another.
Around 100 Norwegian companies are already present in the Indian market. They are engaged in a range of areas, like the maritime sector, energy, offshore, ICT and green technology. Several issues related to these areas will be further explored here today.
Some partnerships are already established, and several commercial agreements and memorandums, in different sectors, will be signed today. This is a testimony to the strong interest in developing economic relations between Norway and India.
For example: An MoU between Export Credit Norway and SREI Infra Finance is an important step to facilitate more export from Norway to India.
In addition, the Norwegian aquaculture company Sterner AS and Indian Omega Aqua Ltd. sign their agreement here today. Through this, Norwegian expertise will contribute to the development of land based facilities for fish farming in India.
Norway is one of the most digitalised societies in the world. And we host world-leading knowledge and technology hubs that are driving this progress. The rapid developments in digitalisation and automatisation are changing the way we are doing business – in all sectors. I believe Norwegian companies have a lot to offer India in this field.
According to the IMF, India will become the world’s 5th biggest economy this year, surpassing France and the UK.
As India continues to be the fastest growing economy in the G20, we see great scope for Norwegian-Indian partnerships in business, trade and investments.
It is against this backdrop that Norway has just launched a new strategy for our engagement with India. This reflects the importance we place on our bilateral relations.
The aim of the new strategy is to strengthen Norway’s bilateral relations and economic ties with India.
Private sector engagement, research and technical cooperation are key components of the strategy. It focuses on the oceans, energy and the environment, and on increased cooperation and contact between our countries at political level.
I believe that business partnerships are crucial for developing the technology we will need in the future. I also believe that business partnerships will be invaluable for reaching the Sustainable Development Goals.
In fact, I am convinced that business partnerships have a key role to play in making the bold promise of Agenda 2030 a reality. But to do so, they must be based on the principle of sustainability.
In this regard, we applaud India’s ambitions and actions in the area of climate and environment. These include the early ratification of the Paris Agreement, a ban on single-use plastic, and impressive targets for renewable energy development.
Norway and India are both ocean states, and closer cooperation in this field will benefit both countries. The Ocean Dialogue between Norway and India will be an important tool to bring this cooperation forward.
Norway is a small country with a small and open economy, and a limited domestic market. Consequently, we depend on, and benefit greatly from, foreign trade. We also support a rules-based multilateral trading system, open markets and low trade barriers.
A stable global framework for trade and investment is vital for both our countries, especially in times like today when we are seeing increased protectionism in certain markets.
We are doing what we can to ensure that the Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement between EFTA and India will be finalised soon. This agreement will contribute to increased trade and a better environment for our businesses.
Open and free trade are crucial for economic growth.
Furthermore, predictable and stable framework conditions are vital for attracting foreign investment to any market. Most Norwegian companies are small- or medium-sized businesses and have limited administrative resources.
We therefore welcome the Indian Government's efforts to cut red tape and make it easier for foreign companies to invest in India. We are very impressed by India’s achievement in moving up more than 50 places on the global ‘ease of doing business’ index over the last few years. This is truly remarkable and holds promise for a prosperous future.
I wish you a fruitful and interesting day, and hope you enjoy the seminars.