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In this page: FDI in Figures | What to consider if you invest in Norway | Protection of Foreign Investment | Procedures Relative to Foreign Investment | Office Real Estate and Land Ownership | Investment Aid | Investment Opportunities | Sectors Where Investment Opportunities Are Fewer | Finding Assistance For Further Information

 

FDI in Figures

Due to the economic crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic, FDI in Norway dropped sharply to almost USD -2.4 billion in 2020, down from USD 16 billion in 2019. The country's FDI stock stood at USD 148 billion in the same year (UNCTAD World Investment Report 2021). Despite the uncertain economic situation, Norway continues to be a major investor abroad. Sweden, the U.S. and the Netherlands almost consistently rank as top investors in Norway, accounting for more than 40% of inflows (Statistics Norway); whereas mining and quarrying, manufacturing and financial services are the main sectors in terms of FDI stock. The Norwegian economy is largely based on the petroleum and gas sector. Consequently, the decline in the price of hydrocarbons led to a drop in investment in Norwegian oil companies in recent years. Most recently, the Norwegian government pension fund has enhanced its efforts to move towards sustainable investments, for example by announcing the divestment of carbon-related assets from its portfolios. According to the latest figures by OECD, in the first six months of 2021 FDIs to Norway totalled USD 9.3 billion, compared to a negative flow of USD 5.1 billion recorded in the same period one year earlier, mostly thanks to the recovery of investment in the oil sector.

The Norwegian government introduced a new investment screening regime, allowing Norwegian authorities to investigate and block FDI on grounds of national security, national financial stability and autonomy. The decision applies to EU and non-EU investments alike. There are about 7,400 foreign-owned companies in Norway (U.S. State Department). While the country has a small domestic market, it possesses several assets, such as its geographic location in a fertile region, its favoured ties with the United States, skilled and multilingual population, a modern economy and rich energy resources. Norway has a particularly favourable business climate. The country is ranked 9th out of 190 in the latest Doing Business report of the World Bank, losing two spots compared to the previous edition.

 
Foreign Direct Investment 201920202021
FDI Inward Flow (million USD) 16,715-1,326-1,628
FDI Stock (million USD) 170,542169,837150,246
Number of Greenfield Investments* 335146
Value of Greenfield Investments (million USD) 1,1779681,579

Source: UNCTAD, Latest available data.

Note: * Greenfield Investments are a form of Foreign Direct Investment where a parent company starts a new venture in a foreign country by constructing new operational facilities from the ground up.

 

FDI STOCKS BY COUNTRY AND INDUSTRY

Main Investing Countries 2019, in %
Sweden 24.6
United States 9.9
The Netherlands 9.0
Luxembourg 8.2
Denmark 7.5
United Kingdom 6.6
Finland 5.2
Germany 4.2
France 3.2
Main Invested Sectors 2019, in %
Mining and quarrying 20.5
Manufacturing 12.6
Financial and insurance activities 9.8
Wholesale and retail 9.7
Real estate 7.7
Transportation and storage 7.2

Source: OECD's Statistics - Latest available data.

 
Form of Company Preferred By Foreign Investors
Foreign investors can operate through a branch office or through a separate entity. Limited companies (public and private) and partnerships can be used.
Form of Establishment Preferred By Foreign Investors
The most common form of doing business for a foreign investor in Norway is a branch office or an incorporated subsidiary.
Main Foreign Companies
ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, BP Amoco, Total, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, Marathon, Halliburton, General Electric.
Sources of Statistics
Statistics Norway

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What to consider if you invest in Norway

Strong Points

Advantages for FDI in Norway:

  • Norway has a very strong economy and encouraging prospects of development. 
  • The high value-added sector of information and communication technologies is, for example, very well developed. 
  • The public sector is well organised (around a sovereign fund in surplus that can intervene at any time in the economy) and the country has high quality infrastructure. 
  • The workforce is highly skilled, multilingual and has one of the highest purchasing powers in the world. 
  • As can be seen from its eighth spot in the World Bank ranking of countries where it is easier to do business (Doing Business Norway), the business environment in Norway is very positive and stable. 
  • The banking and financial sectors as well as the fiscal and legal framework are also very robust. 
  • The country's political environment is democratic, healthy and transparent.
Weak Points

Disadvantages for FDI in Norway:

  • Norway's economy is generally not very diversified and is therefore very dependent on the price of oil, and the country has already exceeded the peak of its production (even if new deposits have been discovered). 
  • Like any open international economy, it is also very vulnerable to the economic situation of its main economic partners and the impact of the upcoming exit of the United Kingdom (Norway's largest export market) on its economy is still difficult to predict. 
  • Due to the geographical isolation of certain regions of the country, expenditure in the areas of transport, logistics and telecommunication infrastructure is very high. 
  • The country has put in place relatively strict labour laws that accentuate the extremely high wage costs in the country.
Government Measures to Motivate or Restrict FDI
The government maintains an open position towards FDI in Norway. Norway does not offer significant tax benefits to investors (whether foreign or Norwegian), but some benefits, such as lower social security contributions, lower tax rates and additional deductions for individuals apply for investments made in the less populated areas of northern Norway. Existing regulations, standards and practices may slightly favour Norwegian, Scandinavian and European Economic Zone investors.
For more information you can visit the Innovation Norway page, the government agency whose purpose is to help companies offer financing through the Industrial Development Contracts and Research in Norway. 

Special restrictions exist in Norway and apply in the following sectors: 

  • Acquisition of waterfalls, rights for power supply and mines
  • Acquisition of land, real estate and leases in the long term
  • Acquisition of cultivable land and forests
  • Purchase of more than 10% of the share capital of a Norwegian financial institution
  • Direct investments in exploration and petroleum operations that are licensed by the government

On January 1, 2019, a new law on national security came into force that provides the legal basis for a better evaluation of foreign investment by the government. Regulations for the implementation of the law are being developed, including a comprehensive list of critical infrastructure, entities and products to be covered by legislation and by investment screening procedures.

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Protection of Foreign Investment

Bilateral Investment Conventions Signed By Norway
Norway has signed bilateral investment treaties with several countries. A list can be found on the UNCTAD Investment Policy Hub pages dedicated to Norway.
International Controversies Registered By UNCTAD
The ISDS Navigator contains information about known international arbitration cases initiated by investors against States pursuant to international investment agreements. Norway is involved in 5 cases as Home State of claimant and in 1 cases as Respondent State.
Organizations Offering Their Assistance in Case of Disagreement
ICCWBO , International court of arbitration, International chamber of commerce
Oslo Handelskammer , The arbitration and dispute resolution Institute of the Oslo chamber of commerce
ICSID , International Center for settlement of Investment Disputes
Member of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency
Norway is a signatory to the Convention of the MIGA.
 
Country Comparison For the Protection of Investors Norway OECD United States Germany
Index of Transaction Transparency* 7.0 6.5 7.0 5.0
Index of Manager’s Responsibility** 5.0 5.3 9.0 5.0
Index of Shareholders’ Power*** 8.0 7.3 9.0 5.0

Source: Doing Business - Latest available data.

Note: *The Greater the Index, the More Transparent the Conditions of Transactions. **The Greater the Index, the More the Manager is Personally Responsible. *** The Greater the Index, the Easier it Will Be For Shareholders to Take Legal Action.

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Procedures Relative to Foreign Investment

Freedom of Establishment
Guaranteed.
Acquisition of Holdings
A majority holding by a foreign owned company  in a Norwegian one is legal, and requires no notification to of clearance of a governmental agency. However, in certain sectors governing vital national interests, such as the power and energy sector (including oil, gas and hydropower) and the finance sector (including financial, credit, and insurance institutions), certain limitations on ownership and business operations apply.
Obligation to Declare
No specific text of law regulates foreign direct investments, but various sectors are governed by specific laws, which are handled by the respective ministries that oversee these sectors.
Competent Organisation For the Declaration
Ministry of Finance
Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries
Norwegian Competition Authority
Requests For Specific Authorisations
Companies must obtain a concession to acquire rights to own or use various kinds of real property, including forests, mines, tilled land, and waterfalls. The Petroleum Act of November 1996 (superseding the 1985 Petroleum Act) establish that direct investments in petroleum exploration and exploitation are subject to a government licence. Media ownership is regulated by the Media Ownership Act of 1997 and the Norwegian Media Authority. No individual party, domestic or foreign, may control more than 1/3 of the national newspaper, radio and/or television markets without a concession. Financial Supervisory Authority permission is required for acquisitions of Norwegian financial institutions that exceed defined threshold level.

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Office Real Estate and Land Ownership

Possible Temporary Solutions
Foreign companies don't have to seek concessions to rent real estate (commercial facilities, office space) if the rental period is under 10 years.
The Possibility of Buying Land and Industrial and Commercial Buildings
Generally it's possible for foreign investors to own real property, though ownership of certain real assets is restricted. Acquisition of real estate and land are subject to The Concession Act. These regulations apply when buying real estate or companies that hold real estate (or long term leases).
Risk of Expropriation
No cases of questionable expropriation. Expropriation is governed by The Land Act. Government takings of property are generally limited to non-discriminatory land and property condemnation for public purposes.

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Investment Aid

Forms of Aid
No significant forms of investment aid. Norway’s SkatteFUNN R&D tax incentive scheme is a government program designed to stimulate R&D in Norwegian trade and industry.
Privileged Domains
There are incentives for implementation of green energy and technologies and public support and tax incentives for R&D investments.
Privileged Geographical Zones
Minimal taxation in the Svalbard archipelago and lower social security payments, lower tax rates and extra deductions in the sparsely populated areas of northern Norway. The economy of Svalbard is dominated by coal mining, tourism and research.
Free-trade zones
None.
Public aid and funding organisations
The Nordic Investment Bank, the Nordic Industrial Fund, the Nordic Environment Finance Cooperation. More information can be found at Bedin.no under the topic "Financing".
 
 

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Investment Opportunities

The Key Sectors of the National Economy
The best business opportunities are consumer goods, information and communication technologies, construction and services for business, oil and gas, food processing, marine industry, fishing, shipbuilding, mechanical engineering and metals.
High Potential Sectors
Equipment / machinery and services for natural gas fields, telecommunications, naval and marine equipment, renewable energies, environmental technologies, medical equipment and supplies, security equipment, transport infrastructure (road network, rail network and urban transport), data centers, battery tech, life sciences, ocean tech, digitalisation, tourism.
Privatization Programmes
In 2016, the government initiated a reform of the railway sector leading to the first railway line opening for competition in 2018 and contracts being awarded to British and Swedish operators. Norway is bound to follow EU rules, in this case the implementation of the EU’s 4th Railway Package, due to its EEA membership.
Tenders, Projects and Public Procurement
Doffin, Public Procurement portal
Tenders Info, Tenders in Norway
Ted - European public markets, Business opportunities in EU 27
DgMarket, Tenders Worldwide

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Sectors Where Investment Opportunities Are Fewer

Monopolistic Sectors
Postal services, railways, domestic production and retail sale of alcohol.

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Latest Update: June 2022