The recent meeting between Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, and her Indian counterpart, have set the two countries on a path to increased bilateral cooperation and trade.
As many as 140 business and industry representatives were part of Solberg’s visit. Stakeholders in Norway see promise in this development, and predict that both sides can collaborate in several vital areas.
One of them is Innovation Norway's director in India, Helge Tryti. He outlines that it is important for those hoping to do business in India to adapt their products to market needs.
Increasing Norwegian presence
“There is great potential for companies in the oil and gas [sectors] in India – on land and in deep water,” he says. Tryti adds that some of the large Norwegian companies have been in place in India for many years. “Now Eqiunor, a Norwegian multinational energy company headquartered in Stavanger, is opening an office in New Delhi”, he says.
Norway has gradually increased its business presence in the world’s largest democracy [and one of the fastest growing global economies]. There are currently 150 Norwegian companies in India. In addition, between 10 and 15 factories are owned by Norwegian business entities.
Norwegian companies are currently found all over India, manufacturing or providing a diverse range of goods, products and services. These include fertiliser, hydropower, products/systems and services for the oil and gas industry, risk management services, technology, paint and food.
Not just oil and gas
Apart from oil and gas, Tryti sees potential in other crucial sectors. “We are seeing increasing interest in renewable energy and green shipping with liquefied natural gas,” he says. He also emphasises other areas of collaboration which include the likes of electricity, bioenergy and hydrogen, aquaculture, information and communication technologies, health and defence.
During the visit of the Norwegian PM and business delegates, as many as 15 agreements were signed. Tryti is confident that wheels have been set in motion for fruitful cooperation. “Our two countries are well advanced in marine industries and technology. By working together, we can learn from each other and also promote exports,” he continues.
Local businesses see opportunity
Sumon Ahmed, who runs an information technology consultancy in Bergen, Norway, is currently in dialogue with Indian entities to further his personal business. Talking to Inside Scandinavian Business, he reflects on the potential of bilateral trade and believes the two nations are a ‘perfect match’.
Ahmed says Norway is a small but technologically and industrially-advanced country. “At the same time, India is a big country which is also industrialised and has many other advantages,” Ahmed adds. He lists some of those advantages as cheap labour and having a variety of resources.
Ahmed points out that India is also a hub for other countries to seek information technology solutions and Norway has much to gain from this expertise.
“Many big and small companies are outsourcing [their work] from here to India. If they can create collaboration and a proper framework, the cooperation will be more intensified”, he concludes.
Small, but getting bigger
There is potential for smaller companies when it comes to possible collaborations between India and Norway as well. Harriet Olaisen’s Norwegian startup, HOI by Cottage Wool, has been weaving blankets and scarves in India. “The company is rooted in social principles of entrepreneurship and advocates the ‘Make in India campaign”, Olaisen states. “Our company works closely with small villages, in and around the northern states of India”, she adds.
Norway is her main point of sale and her products, once transported back to the country, are sold in 40 boutiques. “The products are fully made in these villages and then transported for sale from India to Norway," Olaisen says.
Helge Tryti talks of how a giant country like India and the smaller Norway complement each other. “India has the world's largest workforce and Norway one of the smallest,” he says.
In his point of view, Norway needs to scale up and India provides just that opportunity. Innovation Norway’s director in India also highlights that there are several small Norwegian companies that have the solid solutions required by the global market.
However,“they lack the capacity, expertise and resources to expand internationally. By collaborating more closely on research and education on key areas of cooperation, such as marine industries, we can create the expertise we need to expand. There is no country in the world that educates as many engineers from elite universities as India,” he says.
Finally, Tryti reflects on the reasons why in his statement that “the numbers are clear. Norwegian companies, with their own subsidiaries in India, have grown by 57% over the past five years”.
With Indian gross domestic product (GDP) increasing at an average of 7-8% over the last few years, the country has emerged as the world’s strongest growing economy.
Experts are of the opinion that the agreements between the Indian and Norwegian stakeholders can be beneficial for both countries. Norway has the expertise to benefit Indian ambitions of acquiring more competent technologies, while India can provide 'economies of scale' to allow the Scandinavian country room for further expansion.
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