High talks, low trade
Ministers and officials talk up cross-border business and cooperation, but figures show that Norwegian-Russian trade goes down.
For the second year in a row, turnover of goods between Russia and Norway shrinks. Last year, down 462 million Norwegian kroner (€55 million).
The turnover of trade between the two neighbors was last year 17,68 billion NOK (€2,11 billion), down from 18,79 billion (€2,25 billion) in 2012, reads that latest figures from Statistic Norway. Norway’s export to Russia had a value of 9 billion NOK (€1,08 billion), while Russia’s export to Norway had a value of 8,61 billion NOK (€1,02 billion).
Boosting business ties have for more than two decades been included in some of the first paragraphs in most manuscripts the two countries’ ministers have presented during bilateral talks and in multilateral fora like the Barents cooperation.
Lavrov: “Potential has not been exhausted”
On Monday, Foreign Minister Børge Brende met with his colleague Sergey Lavrov in Moscow. The Russian Foreign Minister said he hopes to stop the declining trend.
“This spring we expect to hold another session, the17th, of the Intergovernmental commission for economic, industrial, scientific and technical cooperation. Both parties have expressed a hope that this session will help us to plan a way to stop the trend showing a drop in bilateral turnover of goods,” Sergey Lavrov said at the press-conference following the meeting.
“The potential of trade and investment cooperation between our countries has not been exhausted. We will welcome Norwegian investments in the Russian Federation, primarily, in the Northwestern Federal District. My colleague has confirmed today that Norway is pleased that Russian companies have come to its market and will also welcome additional capital investments,” Lavrov said.
Millions in Governmental support
In Norway, the Government supports several dedicated programs to boost business cooperation with Russia. The Foreign Ministry, the Barents Secretariat and Innovation Norway have programs where businesses can apply for funding. Over the years, Norway has granted hundreds of millions kroner targeted to boost Norwegain, Russian business development and trade.
Norway’s main export product to the Russian market is sea-food, while Russia mainly exports minerals and metals to Norway.
In 2013, Russian import of pelagic fish and salmon from Norway declined in real terms by 7,5 percent. The main reduction was less salmon import. Russia imported 108,975 tons of salmon in 2013 from Norway, 17,8 percent less than in 2012, according to the figures from the Russian Federal Fisheries Agency.
2014 could be worse
Trade turnover for 2014 could be dramatically further down. With effect from January 1, Russia bans import of fish from 485 Norwegian companies, or 90 percent of the country’s registered suppliers to Russia, as previously reported by BarentsObserver.