Åpningstale norskargentinsk energiforum Buenos Aires

Utenriksminister Børge Brende holdt fredag 1. Juli åpningstalen på det norskargentinske energiforumet som den norske ambassaden i Buenos Aires arrangerte i samarbeid med INTSOK og det norskargentinske handelskammeret. Rundt 135 aktører fra norsk og argentinsk næringsliv var samlet i Buenos Aires for å se på nye samarbeids- og investeringsmuligheter. Les utenriksministerens åpningsinnlegg her.

Check against delivery.

Norway as a partner in the global market

Ladies and gentlemen,
 

  • It is a great pleasure to be here today and to have the opportunity to meet so many members of the business community in this region.
  • We have a long history here. After Norway became independent in 1905, one of the first embassies that we opened was here in Buenos Aires.
  • This was due to the strong ties between our countries, especially in the maritime and shipping industry. Our bilateral relations, and especially in business, were close and strong.   
  • However, for a number of years now the level of contact between our two countries has been limited.
  • We hope that the time has now come to renew our bilateral relationship and to promote activity in new sectors. Seeing the turnout here today, I would say that the prospects are promising.

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(Trends in Latin America and Argentina)

  • The first decade of this century was a decade of optimism and economic growth in Latin America. Now, with economic problems in Brazil and elsewhere, the situation is more challenging.
  • Nevertheless, some Latin American countries are doing relatively well.
  • A number of countries in the region have adopted innovative economic policies to facilitate inclusive growth and prosperity.
  • Here in Argentina, the Macri Government has implemented important policy changes to provide a more business-friendly environment.
  • Furthermore, Argentina has regained access to international capital markets after resolving the long-standing conflict with the hold-out funds.
  • The recent changes in Argentina have been welcomed by many countries, including Norway.
  • One of my reasons for visiting Argentina is to discuss how we can increase the cooperation between our two countries, both politically and economically.
  • Given the recent policy changes, I think there is great potential for more Norwegian investments in Argentina – and I hope that this can happen soon.
  • It is crucial for Norwegian businesses that they are given stable and predictable framework conditions for investment. We are optimistic that this will increasingly be the case.

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  • Norway is already a sizeable investor in this region, especially in Brazil, as well as in Mexico, Chile and Peru.

The Norwegian sovereign wealth fund has invested

  • almost 20 billion USD in Latin America
  • More than 100 Norwegian companies have activities in Brazil, and they employ nearly 20 000 Brazilians. Despite the economic downturn in Brazil, Norwegian companies are staying. Norwegian companies view their investments as long term.
  • Given their substantial presence in Brazil and other countries in the region, Norwegian companies are familiar with Latin America, and several of the companies represented here today are already operating in Argentina’s neighbouring countries.
  • This gives them an excellent starting point for considering investment opportunities here.
  • Norway has many world-class companies, first and foremost in energy, oil and gas, as well as in the maritime and marine and seafood sectors. Norway has cutting-edge expertise, and serves as a global knowledge hub in these sectors.

Other global knowledge industries where Norwegian companies excel are finance, ICT, knowledge-based services, and rapidly growing fields such as medtech, cleantech and biotechnology.

Trade policy

  • The Argentine Government has also announced that it will work to promote international trade, both within the WTO and in Mercosur.
  • We are pleased that Argentina has recently offered to host the next Ministerial Conference of the WTO.
  • Norway will actively assist in the lead-up to this conference by hosting a preparatory meeting in Oslo in October this year.
  • Mercosur and EFTA have recently initiated an exploratory dialogue with a view to establishing a free trade agreement.  
  • The four EFTA states of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Norway are ranked number twelve in global trade in goods and number seven in commercial services.
  • We hope it will be possible to start negotiations next year.
  • As a keen supporter of international agreements to promote trade, Norway is pleased to see recent developments in Argentine trade policy.
  • We enter into trade agreements and bind ourselves to common sets of rules because all parties benefit from doing so.
  • I mention these developments because common sets of rules will benefit both Norwegian and Argentine companies doing business internationally.
  • Increased international world trade can both stimulate economic growth and create much-needed jobs.

The energy sector and the environment

  • Many of the companies represented here today are involved in the energy sector. (We are proud of the Norwegian companies in this sector. They deliver quality products and services based on world-class expertise.)
  • The energy sector is a crucial sector both in this region and worldwide.
  • The world will need more energy in the years to come.
  • Energy poverty is a serious challenge; globally, 1.2 billion people are living without access to electricity.
  • At the same time, we are facing the threat of climate change.
  • Our challenge is to produce more energy – while delivering on the commitments from COP 21 in Paris last year.
  • Thankfully, economic growth no longer needs to mean an increase in emissions. We have now seen two straight years of economic growth decoupled from greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Still, the world needs more energy.

Producing more energy from renewable sources is a clear priority for the Governments of both Norway and Argentina

  • The potential is vast.
  • We have noted the ambitious plans for increased wind and solar energy production in Argentina, which are promising and interesting.
  • Sustainable solutions for the petroleum sector will be vital for the global efforts to reduce carbon emissions.
  • Operations on the Norwegian continental shelf are subject to stringent regulation of emissions to air and the principle of zero discharges to sea.
  • The Norwegian experience shows that it is possible to safeguard the environment while developing energy resources that create tremendous value.
  • Today, companies operating on the Norwegian continental shelf are world leaders in terms of technological solutions that minimise the impact on the environment.
  • Norway also produces natural gas, which can be used to replace coal, as it emits far less CO2 .
  • Moreover, close cooperation between the oil and gas industry and the Norwegian fisheries allows both sectors to operate offshore in a sustainable manner.
    • Norway is both the world’s largest exporter of farmed salmon and one of the world’s top exporters of oil and gas.

    High standards for our companies

    • The environment is not the only factor companies need to take into consideration when starting new projects. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is another priority for Norway.
    • Norwegian companies have high standards in the areas of transparency and anti-corruption, and with regard to Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) in the workplace.
    • There are also well-functioning mechanisms for cooperation between employees and employers.
    • A well-regulated and predictable relationship between companies and the Government is one of Norway’s hallmarks.
    • In addition, both Norway and Argentina have indigenous peoples in our countries.
    • When Norwegian companies want to start activities in  areas populated by indigenous peoples, the indigenous groups are involved in decision-making processes on issues that affect them, in accordance with ILO convention 169. 

     

    Bilateral relationship - closing remarks

    • It is a priority for the Norwegian Foreign Service to assist Norwegian companies in their efforts abroad.
    • I would like to thank the Norwegian Embassy, the Norwegian-Argentine Chamber of Commerce, INTSOK, the Argentine Institute for Petroleum and Gas and the Industrial Union of Argentina for organising this seminar.
    • Let me repeat what I said initially: I think the time has come to renew the bilateral relationship between our two countries – and I believe there is great potential for more investment in Argentina by Norwegian businesses.
    • I hope that all of you who are here today will look into the new opportunities that Argentina is offering.
    • I wish you every success with this seminar and your future business endeavours in Argentina.