Dialogue on Enhancing India-Norway Trade and Economic Relations

New Delhi, India, 18. april 2015

Statsråd Vidar Helgesens innledning til rundebordet med norsk og indisk næringsliv i India 18. april 2015.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me start by thanking the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce (Ficci) and the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO) for organising today's meeting. I look forward to hearing your analysis of our bilateral economic cooperation.

I would also like to commend Ficci for its green initiative. Thank you very much for the Green Certificate, and for planting a tree for me. I greatly appreciate the gesture, and it eases my conscience somewhat after my long-haul flight from Norway.

Yesterday, and earlier today, I participated in the annual conference for Norwegian businesses in Asia, the Norway-Asia Business Summit. Asia is an important region for Norwegian companies, as it is for most countries, and our trade with Asia is growing steadily.

India is also a market that offers great opportunities for Norwegian companies. I look forward to going in greater depth on Indo-Norwegian economic relations today.

The last time we met in a setting similar to this was during the first state visit from India to Norway, when President Muherjee visited Norway in October last year. Business cooperation and investment opportunities were high on the agenda during the visit, and new projects and partnerships were established. That visit was a great success, and I hope that I can build on the positive momentum it created by coming to India now.

I look forward to having political meetings here in Delhi on Monday, and hope that my visit can contribute to strengthening political relations and economic cooperation between our two countries, to our mutual benefit.

The main message I would like to convey today is that there is potential for greater collaboration between Norway and India. Currently, trade between our countries remains at a modest level, but it has nevertheless doubled over the last ten years. There is great potential for further growth.

Norway's FDI and portfolio investments in India are increasing, as is the number of Norwegian companies with operations here.

Bilateral trade negotiations are an important part of our trade policy for Asia. Both the multilateral trading system, and the free trade agreements we negotiate ensure that Norwegian businesses have stable and predictable frameworks for their operations.

My message to the Indian Government is therefore that it is a priority for Norway to finalize the negotiations on a free trade agreement between the Efta states and India. These negotiations have been on hold since before the Parliamentary Elections last spring. I am confident that a free trade agreement between India and the Efta countries will lead to increased trade and investments between our countries.

Future growth in Norway is dependent on Norwegian companies being successful abroad. It is also dependent on our ability to promote Norway as an attractive location for investments, education, talent, research and development. This is an important part of our economic diplomacy work.

During my stay here in India I will visit the facilities of Uninor and Tata Consultancy Services. I look forward to seeing how cooperation between our countries works in practice.

And now, I look forward to hearing your views and hope you will share some of your experiences. Thank you!