Speech, Deputy Minister Ayhan, Norway - Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce, 28 January 2014
Check against delivery
Gong Hei Fat Choy!
Happy New Year – and may prosperity be with you!
Let me first of all thank the Norway – Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce for the invitation to this business seminar.
It is a pleasure to take part in the Chinese New Year celebrations – marking the start of the Year of the Horse.
The Horse symbolizes ambition, intelligence, good humour, kindness and inventiveness.
My experience of the people of Hong Kong is quite similar – always with a welcoming smile and an eagerness to interact and create something.
At first glance, Norway and Hong Kong, may not share many similarities.
Yet, in a sense, I think we do.
From the 19th century to the 21st, Hong Kong experienced a transition from a fisherman’s village to the cosmopolitan city it is today.
Norway also changed during this period – from an economy based on small scale fishing and farming – to a technological intensive and knowledge-based economy.
Hong Kong and Norway both know very well the benefits of international trade – and how it can shape a country and the future of its citizens.
And as two relatively small, yet very outward oriented economies, both Norway and Hong Kong appreciate the value of good relations with our trading partners.
I believe we both have a will and a wish to maintain our friendly relationship.
And in this, our case is strong.
- For the past hundred years, The pearl of the orient has been a central port of call for Norwegian ships;
- last year, the Norway- Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce celebrated its 25th anniversary;
- and since November 2012 we have enjoyed a modern EFTA- Hong Kong trade agreement – fit for the 21st century.
The Agreement not only facilitates trade – it sends a strong signal about the importance of our relationship. And in 2013 Norwegian mainland exports to Hong Kong reached its second highest level ever.
Indeed, after 1997 Hong Kong has become more and more important to Norwegian exporters and traders. 
Since then, Hong Kong has experienced a boost in competiveness in both international trade and shipping.
And it is gradually taking over from London and New York as the world's leading financial centre.
Hong Kong today is an excellent place to do business. It is an international media, cultural, and social networking hub, where the best of the best come together to share ideas.
As former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton put it:
“Hong Kong is a city that bridges East and West and looks outward in all directions, a place where ideas become businesses, where companies compete on their merits, and where economic opportunity is real for millions of people, a place that defines the fierce and productive economic competition of our time.”
Hong Kong will surely continue to create economic opportunities for its businesses and people. And the key to this is to continue having good relations with business partners in other countries.
And I certainly see that Norway has a place in this:
Hong Kong plays an important role as our gateway to Asia.
And it is a first destination before moving into Greater China.
5.8 per cent of all mainland Chinese exports to Norway are routed through Hong Kong.
We also welcome the Chinese footprints we see in Norway – through consumer goods like clothing, telecommunications equipment, toys and jewellery.
In addition, I want to stress our position as a seafood nation:
Norway is the worlds’s second largest exporter of seafood after China.
Last year, over 40 per cent of our exports of goods to Hong Kong were fish and seafood.
This means over 17 000 tonnes! Or in other words, 240 000 meals every day!
And we still believe that there is plenty of room for growth.
To sum up, I would like to use the words of Benjamin Franklin.
“No nation was ever ruined by trade.”
I therefore hope we can use this New Year – in the spirit of the inventive and ambitious horse – to create an even stronger relationship between Hong Kong and Norway.
Lastly, I would like to extend my gratitude to the Norway Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce and the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office and their representatives here today.
You are doing an important job in bringing Hong Kong and Norway closer together.
I wish you a successful seminar, and a prosperous new year.
Thank you for your attention.