Norwegian industry welcomes normalization of ties with China

Updated 2016-12-23 14:02:10 Xinhua

Businesses and other bodies in Norway are expecting more cooperation with China as the two countries have decided to normalize relations after six years of frustrated ties.

"We have been hoping for improved political conditions between our two countries for many years," said Kristin Skogen Lund in a recent interview with Xinhua. Skogen is the director general of the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO), which is the country's major organization for employers and the leading business lobby.

The NHO, which represents over 24,000 companies and is made up of 19 sectoral federations and 15 regional offices, "is very happy to see the Chinese-Norwegian diplomatic relations back on track again," Lund said.

"Our businesses from a vast number of sectors are now ready to develop goods and services that the global market needs, in a tight partnership with the Chinese," she said, "There is a strong, inherent compatibility between Norwegian and Chinese companies, and we look forward to resume the great cooperation we've had for decades."

Jan-Gunnar Winther, director of the Norwegian Polar Institute, said his institute has collaborated closely with Chinese institutions on polar science in the past few years and that a normalization of ties will enable research to strengthen further.

"This is the best Christmas present I could think of. After six difficult years, we can now restore our relations to the benefit to both our countries," Winther said, "I look forward to a Chinese-Norwegian 'spring' where new cooperation is activated within a wide variety of sectors."

"As a member of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development, I look forward to working with Chinese experts and officials on issues related to climate, polar and ocean," he added.

China and Norway issued a statement in Beijing on Monday on normalizing ties. "The Norwegian side is fully conscious of the position and concerns of the Chinese side and has worked actively to bring bilateral relations back on track," said the statement.

China-Norway relations deteriorated since the Oslo-based Nobel Committee conferred the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize on convicted Chinese criminal Liu Xiaobo. Liu was sentenced to 11 years in jail on Dec. 25, 2009, after a court in Beijing convicted him of engaging in activities designed to overthrow the government.

According to the statement, both sides will promote mutually beneficial and win-win cooperation in various fields, including trade, culture, science and education.

"It is positive for us. This will normalize trade between China and Norway, and will also make it easy for us to export salmon to China again," said Henning Beltestad, chief executive officer of Leroy Seafood Group, a leading exporter of seafood from Norway.

"We have not been able to export any fresh salmon (to China) since 2010. So it is very positive and good news for us," Beltestad said, "It will mean a lot to us definitely."

Remi Eriksen, president and chief executive officer of DNV GL Group, a leading international classification society with headquarters in Norway, said his company has a long and massive presence in China and welcomes the normalization of ties between the two countries.

"We are very pleased that the bilateral relations between Norway and China are normalized, and look forward to developing the full potential of the partnership with our Chinese customers," he said.

In fact, Norway and China had cooperated in a wide range of areas in the past. The eighth round of talks on a free trade agreement concluded in September 2010, three months before the Nobel Prize episode.

In normalizing their relationship, the two countries have also agreed to resume free trade negotiations.

"We also believe that signing the statement will bring new energy to the free trade discussions and will be important both for existing and new businesses," the NHO's Lund said. "It will be important to see a free trade agreement come in place at a time when the world needs more cooperation and trade."

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