Norway - Country Commercial Guide
Investment Climate Statement
Last published date:

The U.S. Department of State’s Investment Climate Statements provide information on the business climates of more than 170 economies and are prepared by economic officers stationed in embassies and posts around the world. They analyze a variety of economies that are or could be markets for U.S. businesses.  The Investment Climate Statements are also references for working with partner governments to create enabling business environments that are not only economically sound, but address issues of labor, human rights, responsible business conduct, and steps taken to combat corruption.  The reports cover topics including Openness to Investment, Legal and Regulatory Systems, Protection of Real and Intellectual Property Rights, Financial Sector, State-Owned Enterprises, Responsible Business Conduct, and Corruption.

Executive Summary

Norway is a modern, highly developed country with a small but very strong economy.  Per capita GDP is among the highest in the world, boosted by decades of success in the oil and gas sector and other world-class industries like shipping, shipbuilding, and aquaculture.  The major industries are supported by a strong and growing professional services industry (finance, ICT, legal), and there are emerging opportunities in fintech, cleantech, medtech, and biotechnology.  Strong collaboration between industry and research institutions attracts international R&D activity and funding. Norway is a safe and straightforward country in which to do business, ranked 9 out of 190 countries in the World Bank’s 2020 Doing Business Report, and fourth out of 180 on Transparency International’s 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index.  Norway is politically stable, with strong property rights protection and an effective legal system. Productivity is significantly higher than the EU average.

In Norway, there is a clear division of roles in economic policy.  The government is responsible for setting fiscal policy, while Norway’s Central Bank sets monetary policy with the primary goal of maintaining economic stability. While the coronavirus pandemic dampened economic activity in early 2022, government fiscal support and the phasing-out of pandemic restrictions led to an economic recovery.  However, high consumer price inflation primarily driven by electricity price increases, and global supply bottlenecks in computer chips, lumber, and shipping, have added pressures to inflation.  To tackle it, the Central Bank has gradually increased the reference interest rate since 2022 and the Parliament approved in December 2022 a contractionary budget for the 2023 fiscal year.

Norwegian lawmakers and businesses welcome foreign investment as a matter of policy and the government generally grants national treatment to foreign investors. Some restrictions exist on foreign ownership and use of natural resources and infrastructure.  The government remains a major owner in the Norwegian economy and retains monopolies on a few activities, such as the retail sale of alcohol.

Norway, while not a member of the European Union (EU), is part of the European Economic Area (EEA).  The EEA agreement extends the “four freedoms” to Norway, ensuring free flow of capital, personnel, services and goods between Norway and the rest of the EU.  The Norwegian government continues to liberalize its foreign investment legislation with the aim of conforming more closely to EU standards and has cut bureaucratic regulations over the last decade to make investment easier.  Foreign direct investment in Norway stood at $140 billion at the end of 2022 and has more than doubled over the last decade.  There are approximately 8,363 foreign-owned companies in Norway, and an estimated 659 U.S. companies have a presence in the country, employing more than 50,000 people.

To access the ICS for Norway, visit the U.S. Department of Department of State’s Investment Climate Statement website.