Business delegation follows Prime Minister to China

A large delegation of Norwegian business leaders was to travel with Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik when he left for a state visit to China on Friday. Two cabinet ministers are also along for the ride.

Bondevik left Friday for a week-long visit, followed by nearly 200 Norwegians, Trade Minister Ansgar Gabrielsen and Environment Minister Børge Brende.

Only a few contracts were expected to be ceremoniously signed during the trip. Most simply hoped the Prime Minister would act as a door-opener and help the Norwegians establish new business contacts in China, which ranks as a major trading partner.

The delegation also will travel on to South Korea. About 140 business executives would be along in either Beijing, Shanghai or Seoul, or all three cities.

Gabrielsen hoped the trip would especially aid Norwegian seafood producers, who need new markets, and shipping interests. Norway's aquaculture industry is highly advanced and also hoped to sell equipment to their Chinese counterparts.

Bondevik planned to meet China's top leaders and was to be hosted at a traditional banquet at the Great Hall of the People.