Resource rich Norway is emerging as key business partner for India from Northern Europe. Norwegian investment interests in India are increasing, in particular within energy and in ocean related areas and Oslo is working on a plan to enhance the country’s popularity in India. Cristian Valdes Carter, Country Director Innovation Norway & Commercial Counsellor Royal Norwegian Embassy in India, tells ET’s Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury that Norwegian sovereign wealth fund exposure is roughly 14 billion USD, pided between 320 different investments.
What would be primary objectives of Innovation Norway under your leadership?
Norwegian investment interests in India are increasing, in particular within energy and in ocean related areas. One primary objective is to bring more promising Norwegian companies to India and support their entrance and growth in the Indian market. We already have several important Norwegian businesses established in India. As per our latest records, there are 110 Norwegian companies in India, up by 60% since 2013. Their success will form good references and increase India’s attractiveness for new Norwegian companies and investments. Contributing to sustainable growth in India for these companies is obviously another primary objective.
What are areas that Innovation Norway is currently focussing in India
Areas where Norwegian companies and clusters are world leaders, and where we should be able to create major synergies together with India and at the same time address global challenges. Particularly energy (Hydrogen, Ammonia, LNG, Hydro Power, Offshore wind), Maritime transportation, Shore power, Aquaculture and Sustainable Waste Management. India and Norway are two key players in the global energy transition and sustainable use of marine resources. Clean energy and clean oceans are of key importance to both our countries and we therefore support the Indian government’s National Hydrogen Mission and Deep Ocean Mission.
What is the exposure of Norway’s sovereign wealth fund in India?
Approx. 14 billion USD, pided between 320 different investments. Close to 90% in equities. The value of the wealth fund has increased from 1.9 bn USD in 2011 to 14 bn USD in 2020, a growth of over 600%. Investments are in varied sectors, the largest in financials, technology, consumer goods, oil and gas and bonds. Currently, the largest single investment is in Reliance Industries at 1.27 bn USD.
Does Innovation Norway has any plans to facilitate Indian businesses in Norway?
It is fundamentally easy to establish business in Norway and we are ranked 9 among 190 economies in the “Ease of doing business” (World Bank annual ratings). Innovation Norway plays an important role in that regard, and we are already working with several Indian businesses interested in establishing access to the Norwegian market and to other markets through Norway.
Have you thought of promoting Indian films, food, culture and tourists as part of Innovation Norway program?
Very much. Indian films, food and culture is, and will continue to be, interesting to Norway. The Indian movie industry is vast, and comes with tremendous potential; on the other hand, Norway has some of the best shooting locations to offer. At the same time, Indian food is gaining increasing popularity in Norway among Norwegians, and with an increasing number of Indian tourists coming to Norway. While the pandemic has put a jolt in increased tourism flow, we are hopeful that we will continue to remain on Indian bucket lists when things open up. Shortly before the pandemic, our visa numbers had been seeing a consistent, in fact, exponential growth. New Delhi visa hub was the largest recipient of visa applications in 2019, and had a 96% increase in visas issued to Indian applicants over a five-year period.
Any thoughts to make Norway popular among Indians.
My clear impression is that we have very good relationships with both India and the Indian community in Norway. Although differently sized and geographically distanced, Norway and India share many of the same values and interests. In terms of business I also see several areas and topics where we complement each other. This should form a good starting point in our efforts to make Norway more popular among Indians.