Discussing a trade agreement with Hong Kong

The ongoing negotiations on a trade agreement was the main topic when Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr. Trond Giske, had political conversations in Hong Kong this morning. - We expect to finish by the end of the year, Giske said.

The ongoing negotiations on a trade agreement was the main topic when Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr. Trond Giske, had political conversations in Hong Kong this morning. - We expect to finish by the end of the year, Giske said.

Negotiations between EFTA and Hong Kong started in January 2010 and are well under way. These negotiations take place independently of the free trade agreement negotiations between Norway and China.

Hong Kong is Asia's main financial center and port city and an important gateway to China. - A trade agreement will ensure that Norwegian industry continues to have good commercial possibilities, Giske said.

The Norwegian Government Pension Fund is a major investor in Hong Kong with some 16.5 billion kroner invested. The Norwegian business sector is also broadly represented by more than 20 Norwegian companies. Representatives from some of these companies have been invited to take part in the talks with the authorities in Hong Kong.

- Hong Kong's importance is rising. It is therefore a priority for me to visit Hong Kong. I want to point out to local authorities that Norway emphasizes a close economic cooperation with Hong Kong and that Norwegian companies can provide services and expertise that is in demand in Hong Kong, Giske said.

- Increased internationalization of the business sector is a priority for the Norwegian government. Establishments abroad is one way to reach new markets, and it will often also have positive spin-off effects and create jobs at home, Giske said. He is the first Norwegian minister who visits Hong Kong since 2005.

The Minister of Trade and Industry started his official visit to China in Beijing on Friday. After Hong Kong he will proceed to Shenzhen and Guangzhou, before he visits the Norwegian pavilion at EXPO 2010 in Shanghai. The visit ends in Chongqing.

FACTS
- Hong Kong is Norway’s 8th largest trading partner in Asia.
- Norway imported goods from Hong Kong for 1.3 billion kroner last year, while Norway’s export to Hong Kong reached 1.2 billion kroner (excluding ships, oil and natural gas).
- Seafood is an important part of Norwegian exports. In 2009, Norway sold salmon and other kinds of seafood for NOK 486 kroner million to Hong Kong.