U.S. - Norway Bilateral Issues
Norway and the United States work closely together on a wide range of issues that are of importance to our nations and to the rest of the world. Among the many bilateral issues on which we cooperate and collaborate are: building democracy in Afghanistan and globally; the Arctic and Polar areas; renewable energy sources and preserving the environment, fighting terrorism, promoting a pluralist society and combating racism, strengthening the NATO alliance; ensuring nuclear security; energy; health; global development; and global peace initiatives.
President Obama hosted Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg for a meeting in the Oval Office on October 20, 2011. The visit underscored the close ties between the United States and Norway, which are grounded in our common heritage, values, ideals and interests. The leaders renewed their commitments in the following areas:
Defense and Security Cooperation: As NATO allies, the United States and Norway are committed to each other’s defense and partner in critical crisis areas around the world.
- Libya: Norway was one of the first allies to step up and deploy fighter aircraft as part of the NATO civilian protection mission in Libya. Six Norwegian F-16s played an important role during the first months of the mission and contributed substantially to its ultimate success.
- Afghanistan: Norway is a key contributor to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), providing more than 500 troops and police trainers, leading a Provincial Reconstruction Team, and providing approximately $120 million annually in development assistance. It is also making significant contributions to the Afghan National Army Trust Fund and the Law and Order Trust Fund, which are critical to Afghanistan transition efforts.
- Bilateral Defense Cooperation: The U.S. and Norwegian militaries enjoy a high level of cooperation and interoperability. Approximately 500 Norwegian military personnel, including pilots, train in the United States annually and about 175 active military sales cases are in process. Norway has selected the Joint Strike Fighter F-35 as its next generation supersonic fighter aircraft, and will be taking delivery of four JSF F-35 training aircraft in 2016.
- Nuclear Security: Norway strongly supports the President’s vision of a world without nuclear weapons, pledged $3.3 million for the International Atomic Energy Agency’s nuclear security work in developing countries at the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit, and participates in the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism and the G8 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction.
Diplomatic Cooperation and Global Development: The United States and Norway cooperate closely on some of the world’s most intractable challenges. We share a commitment to democracy and development cooperation, as highlighted by Norway’s generous $4.6 billion foreign aid budget in 2011, which constitutes more than 1% of the country’s GDP. The United States and Norway are two of the eight founding members of the Open Government Partnership (OGP), a multilateral effort that supports national efforts to promote transparency, fight corruption, strengthen accountability, and empower citizens.
- Middle East, Somalia, and Sudan: Norway chairs the Ad-Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) to coordinate donor support to the Palestinian Authority and contributed $122 million to the Palestinian Authority in 2010, including $67 million in support of Palestinian institution building. Norway is providing $112 million in humanitarian aid to Somalia and those affected by the famine in the Horn of Africa, and the United States and Norway are both members (along with the United Kingdom) of the Sudan Troika.
- Global Issues Dialogue: The United States and Norway established a formal Global Issues Dialogue in 2010, which is further strengthening our cooperation on civilian security and human rights issues. A key area of our cooperation is empowering women as equal partners in preventing conflict and building peace in countries threatened and affected by war, violence, and insecurity.
- Global Health: The United States and Norway have agreed to expand their collaboration on women’s and children’s health globally through greater transparency in lifesaving global health efforts and the use of new technologies to improve impact, gender equity, accountability and governance. Our mutual commitment to global health is reflected in support of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI). Together we pledged over 25% of the total $4.3 billion at a June 2011 pledging conference to vaccinate 250 million children by 2015. This raises Norway’s total direct GAVI contributions to $1.2 billion.
Economic, Energy, and Environmental Cooperation: The United States and Norway have a dynamic economic partnership that is creating jobs, driving the development of safe and secure energy sources, and fostering a healthy environment.
- Trade, Investment and Jobs: Bilateral trade in goods and services exceeded $15 billion in 2010 and Norway’s foreign direct investment in the United States totalled $14.4 billion. Texas and Louisiana alone are home to 130 Norwegian companies, while U.S. exports to Norway support roughly 20,000 U.S. jobs. By 2010, Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) held $28 billion in USG bonds and $97 billion in U.S. equity holdings.
- Energy: As the world’s second largest exporter of natural gas and seventh largest exporter of oil, Norway plays an important stabilizing role in energy markets and energy security. Norway is the only developed country to have completed implementation of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and achieved “compliant” status under the EITI process. In September, the United States committed to implement the EITI as part of its OGP National Action Plan. The United States and Norway are also committed to increasing access to modern energy services for the 1.4 billion people on the planet today who do not have any access to energy.
- Environment, Climate Change and Green Growth: The United States and Norway share a commitment to fostering new models of green growth that include sustainable land management, forest protection, expanding access to renewable energy, and increasing agricultural productivity. This includes $1 billion that the United States and Norway have each pledged to jump start REDD+ activities in the short-term. The two countries are working together to support Indonesia’s strong leadership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+), including through strong political support for the Indonesia-Norway REDD+ Letter of Intent. In this context, Norway today announced its commitment to match U.S. funding to support the new Indonesia Climate Change Center.
- The Arctic: In the Arctic Council, the United States and Norway co-chair a task force examining the role of certain greenhouse gases (such as methane and hydrofluorocarbons) and aerosols (such as black carbon), known collectively as "short-lived climate forcers," in causing global climate change. Together with Russia, the United States and Norway also co-chair a task force to develop an international instrument on Arctic marine oil pollution preparedness and response. The United States welcomes that Norway will host a new permanent secretariat for the Council in Tromso.
Cultural Ties: Nearly five million Americans claim Norwegian ancestry, almost equal to Norway’s own population. Our cultural relations are rich and dynamic, and both countries are working to encourage greater educational exchange opportunities.
- Travel to the United States: Over 126,000 Norwegian residents traveled to the United States in the first half of 2011 alone, an 11% increase over 2010.
Educational and Scientific Exchange: More than 2,500 Norwegian students studied in the United States during the last academic year, ranking the United States as the third most popular destination for Norwegian students studying abroad. The U.S.-Norway Fulbright program exchanges over 100 students and scholars annually, including the prestigious Fulbright Arctic Chairs Program supported by a $1 million contribution from the Norwegian government.