Chinese snub Norway’s oil minister

Chinese politicians have given Norway's newly installed oil minister the cold shoulder at a conference in Beijing on the capture and storage of carbon dioxide.

Chinese snub Norway's oil minister
Photo: Jarle Vines

Unable to meet his Chinese counterparts, Oil and Energy Minister Ola Borten Moe was left wondering if the award by Norwegian parliamentarians of the 2011 Peace Prize to Chinese political activist Liu Xiabo was still colouring relations between the two countries. No meetings were planned.

“It would have been pleasant, useful and interesting (to meet a Chinese official),” Moe said from Beijing on NRK television.

Chinese leaders have expressed their irritation at the award, and some Norwegian business is said to have suffered, although Norwegian shipbuilding orders at Chinese yards continue apace.

Norway is at the leading edge of demonstrating expensive, large-scale technology for carbon capture and storage from natural gas and, increasingly, from combustion and industrial processes. China’s needs largely concern the clean-firing of coal.

State money has helped Norwegian and international businesses in Norway develop the techniques for large-scale carbon-capture, a prohibitively expensive venture. A range of other environmental technologies include techniques useful for cleaning China’s polluted rivers.

Asked what he could do for Norwegian businesses in China said to be “ruined” after the prize, Moe said simply that Norwegians ought to be happy about the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Carbon Sequestration Leadership Conference was recently held in the old German trading town of Bergen, when world leaders rallied behind pledges by Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg to put billions behind carbon-capture technology. US president Barack Obama said he wished for progress on the use of the climate-tech and made a matching pledge.

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Norway and UK strike post-Brexit trade deal

Norway and the United Kingdom have struck an agreement on a free trade deal, the Norwegian government announced on Friday.

Norway and UK strike post-Brexit trade deal
Erna Solberg outside 10 Downing Street in 2019. (Photo by LUDOVIC MARIN / POOL / AFP)

Negotiations over the agreement have been ongoing since last summer, and the Norwegian government said that the deal is the largest free trade agreement Norway has entered into, outside of the EEA agreement. 

“The agreement entails a continuation of all previous tariff preferences for seafood and improved market access for white fish, shrimp, and several other products,” the Ministry of Trade and Industry said in a statement.  

One of the sticking points of the negotiations was Norway wanting more access to sell seafood in the UK, while the UK wanted more access to sell agricultural products like cheese.

The latter was a problem due to Norway having import protection against agricultural goods. 

“This agreement secures Norwegian jobs and value creation and marks an important step forward in our relationship with the UK after Brexit. This is a long-term agreement, which at the same time helps to accelerate the Norwegian economy,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg said in a statement.  

 The United Kingdom is Norway’s second most important single market, after the EU. In 2020 Norwegian companies exported goods worth 135 billion kroner to the UK and imported around 42 billion kroner of goods from the UK. 

Norway has given Britain 26 quotas on agricultural products, but not for mutton and beef. The agreement does not increase the UK’s cheese quotas, state broadcaster NRK have reported. 

The agreement will still need to be signed by both the Norwegian and UK parliament.