Norway best to live in but worst for trade: UN study

Norway best to live in but worst for trade: UN study
Photo: Wilhelm Joys Andersen
Norway, Australia and the Netherlands are “the best (three) countries to live in”, according to Thursday’s UN Human Development Index ranking for 2011, but Norway's trade policies fared much worse.

A levy of tariffs on products headed to Norway and dubious help for democracy in Central Asia has given Norway a bottom ranking in trade policy. The developing world is especially hard hit by Oslo’s trade and aid, according to at least one professional observer and a respected US think tank.

In the Centre for Global Development’s appraisal of Norway’s impact on the world’s poor, the country comes in last. Developing world food and clothing is made especially uncompetitive when bumping up against Scandinavian retailers, the CGD’s Commitment to Development Index said.

“There is no doubt the sky-high customs walls around Norway and the powerful subsidies give us the bottom ranking,” newspaper Aftenposten quoted Progress Party trade policy critic Jørund Rytman as saying. He said he thinks Norway should abolish all levies on items from developing-world countries, beyond the 64 poorer states to which Oslo grants toll-free status.

Meanwhile, a giant subsidy for Norwegian farmers and easy loans from village banks topped up by oil money round out the unnatural competitive strengths faced by Norway-bound wares.

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