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Norway eyes profitable prospects in traditional, emerging sectors

By Ren Xiaojin in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2018-11-09 13:19
A visitor tries an exercise equipment at the booth of DNV GL, a global quality assurance and risk management company based in Norway, at the expo on Thursday. [Photo by Wang Zhuangfei/China Daily]

Norway is eyeing more business opportunities in China in sectors ranging from its traditional strengths, such as fisheries, to emerging ones like services as the bilateral relationship deepens, a top official has said.

After listening to President Xi Jinping's keynote speech at the opening of the China International Import Expo in Shanghai on Monday, Magnus Thue, state secretary to Norway's minister for trade and industry, said he was pleased to hear the president's "unequivocal and forceful message" about China opening its market wider to the world.

Thue said there are a number of sectors with huge potential for China and Norway to work on.

"In the past, bilateral trade was mainly Norway outputting raw materials and buying cheap consumer goods from China," he said. "But times have changed, and both sides have much to learn from each other."

He said trade in services accounts for only a small part of bilateral trade but has huge potential, with Norway able to provide quality tourism products and maritime services.

"For the maritime sector, we have a lot of expertise, as we are an all-maritime country," Thue said. "Even as a small country we are among the biggest shipping nations in the world."

Janica Xiang, CEO of Yixiang Travel, a company based in Oslo, the capital of Norway, predicted that travel to the Scandinavian nation will become popular among Chinese in the next few years.

"Travel habits are changing. The younger generations don't like to do group tours anymore, and they are growing fond of living like a local," said Xiang, whose company missed out on a booth at the ongoing expo in Shanghai because the services trade exhibition hall was fully booked.

She said that as Norway is not the first option that comes to Chinese tourists' minds when thinking about traveling in Europe, most of those who go there have already visited popular destinations like France.

"The travel products are mainly medium- to high-end ones," she said. "Norway is a place to have a relaxed holiday and experience another lifestyle, which matches the profile of those who would think about going to Norway."

Xiang said Norway's profile as a tourism destination is expected to grow in China as snow sports become more popular.

Michael Chen, co-founder of Nordkost, an e-commerce platform and marketing service provider based in Oslo, said the true potential of Norway's exports to China is yet to be discovered.

"According to our research, Norwegian companies can be divided into two parts: Those who are already in China and have done well; and those making up about 90 percent of Norwegian companies who know China is big but have no idea how to enter," he said.

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