Utilising nature’s resources
Norway’s economy has always been closely linked to its vast natural resources. Norway’s tradition as a large-scale exporter of timber, fish, minerals and other raw materials dates back to the Middle Ages. Around 1900, the effort began to tame the country’s many waterfalls, to provide electricity for the energy-intensive operations of the metallurgical, chemical and paper industries.
The sea plays a vital part in Norway’s economy. The transport of raw materials laid the foundation for Norway’s role as a leading shipping nation. This shipping tradition in turn provided the basis for the country’s present maritime activities in the oil and gas, marine equipment and seafood industries. More recently, tourism has emerged as one of Norway’s fastest-growing industries.
Developments in the High North (the Barents Sea, Norway’s northern continental shelf, Svalbard, and the Arctic region) will become increasingly important in future, and increased attention will be focused on this area in connection with oil exploration, maritime biology, Arctic geology, fisheries resources, climate change research and the general management of the High North.
A knowledge society
Within the span of just a few decades, Norway has been transformed from a natural resource-based economy to a knowledge society. The Norwegian business sector works to develop cost-effective, environmentally-sound and technologically-advanced solutions, to increase industrial productivity and enhance efficiency. A focus on R&D activities and joint ventures with foreign companies has promoted the development of new areas of national expertise, including in software and communications technology, space-related technology, the engineering industry, and biotechnology.
Norway exports about 40 per cent of the goods and services it produces, while imports make up around one-third of its GDP. Norway’s core markets include the Nordic region and Europe, although certain products, like oil, gas, minerals and seafood, are successfully marketed worldwide. Although Norway is not a member of the European Union (EU), its membership of the European Economic Area (EEA) secures it full access to the EU’s internal market. The EU presently accounts for some three-quarters of Norway’s foreign trade.