The Nordic countries are among the most developed in the world, and at the top in terms of per capita wealth creation. Norway boasts a well functioning social structure, a highly developed infrastructure and stable political conditions. Through the Norwegian welfare state we reap the benefits of a modern public health service, a social security network and free education, all of which contributes to a good standard of living.
Norway has been named the best country in the world to live in for five years in a row, an obvious sign of success!
Norway has also forged ahead in global terms, becoming known as a world-class market leader in offshore technology, shipping and the maritime industry, hydropower, chemicals, fertilizers and solar technology – to name but a few. After the volatile 1980s, the Norwegian finance industry is now a lean and technologically advanced business. Norway has an open and knowledge-based economy, which is very dependent on trade. International capital has always played an important role for Norwegian industry. Today, foreign ownership in Norwegian-listed companies equals 40 percent. In accordance with modern social democratic traditions, the Norwegian Government actively pursues robust commercial policies aimed at fostering profitable business activities. Success in this context benefits not only the business community but also all of Norwegian society.
Norway is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA) and hence a participant in the European Internal Market. The EEA Agreement between the EU and three of the EFTA States (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, with Switzerland being member of EFTA but not part of the EEA) is principally concerned with the four fundamental pillars of the internal market: “The four freedoms”, i.e. the freedom of movement of goods, persons, services and capital. Horizontal provisions relevant to these four freedoms in the areas of social policy, consumer protection, environment and certain elements of company law and statistics complete the extended internal market. In these areas the EFTA-EEA States comply with EU legislation.
In addition to the extended internal market the EEA Agreement also implies cooperation between the Community and the EFTA-EEA States in a wide range of activities, among them being research and techno¬logical development, information services, the environment, education, social policy, consumer protection and civil protection.
Norway’s current economic situation is strong, and has never been better. Unemployment is extremely low, productivity is high and growth is strong. We have a highly skilled population, excellent access to important export markets and our products and services are gratifyingly competitive. Many countries look to the Nordic countries to learn from our experience.
I hope that the insight into the Norwegian financial sector this publication provides will tempt investors in pursuit of business opportunities to take a closer look at Norway.