Press release: A
very open trade regime for industrial goods but mostly protected for
We have conducted this fourth Trade Policy Review of Norway in a
friendly and well-informed manner, and our dialogue has been very
constructive. We have greatly benefited from the valuable contribution
of the Norwegian delegation, led by Mr. Harald Neple, Director General
of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the very insightful comments by
our discussant, Mr. Alexander Gross, and the active involvement of a
large number of Members.
At the outset, allow me to highlight the considerable support of
Members for Norway's solid macroeconomic performance since its last
Review in 2000, with low inflation and unemployment rates, generally
open investment regime, and growth well above other industrialized
countries. Members also recognized that oil and gas made a
considerable contribution to Norway's prosperity. Members welcomed
Norway's firm commitment to and active participation in the
multilateral trading system, including the Doha Development Agenda.
Members noted that Norway is also active in the regional and bilateral
fora. They expressed appreciation for its substantial direct aid to
developing countries and to WTO technical assistance in particular,
and for its far-reaching GSP scheme for least-developed countries.
Members commended Norway on its very liberal trade regime for
non-agricultural products, and on its full implementation of the WTO
Agreement on Textiles and Clothing well in advance of the timeline
agreed. However, divergent views were expressed on its agricultural
policy. Indeed, some Members shared a common position on the concept
of non-trade concerns which was at the heart of the justification for
Norway's agricultural policy. By contrast, others expressed concerns
on this issue and about Norway's high level of protection of
agricultural products by means of a complex taxation system and large
support, and urged Norway to reform its policy. They commented that
such protection undermined economic efficiency and penalized both
Norwegian tax payers and consumers.
Some Members shared Norway's concern on the widespread tendency to
resort to trade remedy actions, commending Norway on the renunciation
of any such measure over the past years. Questions were posed on
public enterprises, with some Members urging Norway to further reduce
the degree of public ownership in its economy. Members expressed
concerns and requested information on administration of tariff quotas,
SPS measures, and technical regulations. They also sought further
clarification on the foreign investment regime; incentive schemes;
competition legislation; government procurement; protection of
intellectual property rights; and on specific activities, such as
fisheries, maritime transport and financial services.
Members appreciated the responses provided by the Norwegian
delegation, and looked forward to further written replies.
In conclusion, it is my feeling that the wide interest shown by
Members, with many advance written questions, interventions and high
attendance, reflects the important role that Norway plays in the
multilateral trading system. We now have a much better and updated
understanding of its trade-related policies and practices, and
appreciate the challenges it faces and its efforts to address them in
a way that is consistent with the multilateral trading system. Further
liberalization of Norway's agricultural sector would support its
widely recognized actions in favour of developing countries, mainly
those with a key interest in agriculture.