Economic Statecraft and America’s Partnership with Norway
June 14, 2012
by Ambassador Barry White
International economic cooperation has long been one of the foundations of U.S. foreign policy. President Truman l observed half a century ago that our foreign and economic relations were “indivisible.” Today, we continue to give economic concerns a central place in U.S. foreign policy. The State Department and its missions around the world are carrying out a variety of activities on June 14 to highlight “economic statecraft” and to explore ways to improve the conduct of economic diplomacy.
While U.S. economic interests vary from country to country, our global message is that America is open for business and highlights the following:
Openness to foreign direct investment (FDI):
We are redoubling efforts to attract FDI through a new program called SelectUSA. The U.S. Government will partner with individual states, conduct marketing and cut red tape for firms that want to invest in, expand or return operations to the United States. We are fortunate in having a good product to sell: the world’s largest economy; fair treatment for foreign businesses; a center of world innovation and entrepreneurship; readily available, creative financing for businesses; and strong legal principles protecting investors, to cite just a few competitive advantages.
President Obama launched an interagency National Export Initiative to double U.S. exports over five years. In 2011, the United States approved three trade agreements along with legislation to renew two trade preference programs and strengthened Trade Adjustment Assistance.
Intellectual Property Rights:
The United States’ economy is increasingly based on innovation and entrepreneurship. Strong intellectual property protection worldwide is important to providing the proper incentives to continued innovation and entrepreneurship.
Through a new travel and tourism initiative, we are improving the visa process and making it easier for people from around the world to come to the United States for business, pleasure and educational opportunities.
The United States and Norway have close ties based on common heritage, ideals and interests. We work closely on a host of security, development and environmental issues and enjoy robust cultural exchanges. Our leaders meet frequently: I had the privilege of participating in President Obama’s meeting with Prime Minister Stoltenberg in October 2011 and in Secretary Clinton’s recent visit to Oslo and Tromsø. I also look forward to the visit of Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar to Trondheim later this month.
Our vibrant trade and investment relationship is less well known, but equally important. Bilateral trade in goods and services exceeded $15 billion in 2010 and Norway’s foreign direct investment in the United States totaled $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. Last year, Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global held nearly 590 billion NOK of its equity holdings and nearly 370 billion NOK of its bonds in the U.S.
Norway and the United States have had a unique relationship in the oil and gas sector going back more than 40 years. Norwegian companies have made major investments in the development of U.S. oil and gas resources. U.S. companies were pioneers in the exploration and development of the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS) and continue to play a major role there today. In Tromsø, Secretary Clinton met with U.S. and Norwegian energy companies to learn about the challenges of working in the Arctic as well as their efforts to reduce methane and black carbon emissions.
As our two countries and the world apply our collective creativity and financial backing to solutions to the climate change challenge, we will forge productive partnerships in renewable energy as well. We are working with Norway on a variety of clean energy efforts, including developing carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies, and on deforestation.
At the U.S. Embassy, we have established task forces on business promotion and entrepreneurship to help grow partnerships with Norway. I speak at numerous conferences and business clusters around Norway, and the Embassy organizes a range of networking events, including CEO round tables, at my residence in Oslo. I see these as a great way to gather business leaders to share knowledge and brainstorm about how we can facilitate business. The Embassy is here to assist individuals and companies doing business with the United States – Please do not hesitate to contact us.