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REGIONS EUROPE


NorwaydefiesCovid investmentcrunch N


NORWAY ATTRACTED RECORD FDI PROJECTS IN 2020, HELPED BY A FOCUS ON GREEN AND DIGITAL SECTORS. ALEX IRWIN-HUNT REPORTS


orway ranked as the country with the second highest increase in foreign direct


investment (FDI) projects in 2020, bucking a sharp global decline caused by the pandemic, as the rich Nordic country aims to diversify and green its economy. Companies based overseas announced 48 greenfield invest- ments in Norway last year, up by 12 from a year earlier and contrasting


with the 36.5% fall worldwide, according to the latest figures from investment monitor fDi Markets. This placed Norway second globally, behind Switzerland, in terms of its increase in FDI projects between 2019 and 2020, due in part to an influx of business services invest- ments into its capital Oslo. The Nordic nation’s relatively effective pan-


demic response, being the country with the sec- ond-lowest coronavirus deaths per capita in Europe, has helped to underline the country’s resilient business environment, which ranked first in the world, according to a 2020 index pro- ducedbycommercialproperty insurerFMGlobal. “Norway is by any relative measure only


mildly affected by the pandemic,” says Jon Kristian Sjåtil, a partner in the Oslo office of law firm Schjødt, where he represents foreign strategic and financial investors in Norway. For Mr Sjåtil, the pandemic has been a catalyst dur- ing the early stages of the Norwegian econo- my’s transformation to become more sustaina- ble, with its recent focus on sectors such as renewable energy, infrastructure and aquacul- ture. “The tempo with which this transition is moving has, if anything, only accelerated through the pandemic,” he adds.


Green credentials While Norway continues to be Western Europe’s largest petroleum producer — with


the industry accounting for 36% of its exports and 10%of government revenues—it ismaking progress in several aspects of the green agenda. The country broke records in 2020, when


electric cars accounted for 54.3% of all vehicles sold in the country. As the government pur- sues its pledge to become carbon neutral by 2030, it has set an ambitious deadline of 2025 to transition completely away from fossil fuel- powered vehicles. “Norway’s pioneering approach to ending


the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2025 is a signal to investors about its commitment to sus- tainability and the green agenda,” says Guy Douetil, managing director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at site selection consul- tancy Hickey&Associates. Some investors have moved to serve


Norwegian demand for cleaner mobility, as well as rising popularity across the EU, where electric vehicles are forecast to reach 15% of overall sales in 2021, according to green policy group Transport&Environment. In November 2020, Japan-based electronics


giant Panasonic announced in a joint state- ment that it is exploring a lithium-ion battery partnership with Norwegian state-controlled energy company Equinor and renewables mul- tinational Hydro. “We believe the combined strengths of


Panasonic, Equinor and Hydro represent an attractive starting point for exploring the pos- sibilities for a profitable and sustainable bat- tery business in Norway,” Arvid Moss, Hydro’s executive vice president of energy and corpo- rate development said in a statement.


Windyaffair Another key draw to Norway has been its read- ily available and reliable renewable energy. At the beginning of 2021, the country washometo 1681 hydropower plants, from which it pro- duces 90% of its total electricity, according to Energy Facts Norway. Meanwhile, wind power currently accounts


for 10% of the country’s production capacity, with the Norwegian government focusing on developing the country’s offshore potential, in which it has been a relatively slow mover com- pared to neighbouring countries, such as Denmark and the UK. A report commissioned by Export Credit


Norway estimates that the “offshore wind industry has the potential to become one of Norway’s most important export industries”, generating up to €12.9bn by 2050.


66 www.fDiIntelligence.com February/March 2021


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