Norway optimistic FTA with Malaysia will foster more business opportunities

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 3 — Norway hopes to conclude the European Free Trade Association (EFTA)-Malaysia free trade agreement (FTA) by 2024 to foster more opportunities for Norwegian and Malaysian companies.

Norway’s deputy minister of trade and industry Tore O. Sandvik said with the negotiations going on and off for about 10 years, it is time to finalise the agreement as the EFTA has concluded its FTA with neighbouring countries in this region.

“Malaysia and Norway share some similarities where it is rich in natural resources and is attached to big oceans, and thus, there is a great possibility to collaborate in oil and gas (O&G), maritime, and satellite-based offshore surveillance to protect the environment.

“Which is why we must be pushing for the FTA with Malaysia. Norwegian businesses are telling us to come here because we want to share, learn and build cooperation with Malaysian businesses in various sectors,” Sandvik told Bernama during his one-day visit to Malaysia on Friday.

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The EFTA member states are the non-European Union (EU) member countries that include Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

He said Norway is closely following the development of Malaysia’s green transition plan such as the National Energy Transition Roadmap (NETR) and is interested in carbon capture and storage as well as green hydrogen.

“We (Norway) have been doing carbon capture for about 30 years and in terms of technology, the knowledge is easily transferable to Malaysia. We can share our experience in green transition, and together we can learn from one another about decarbonising our countries.

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“We think Malaysia has the potential to become a hub in Asia for storing carbon and we would very much like to participate in that journey because that is also our mission for Europe,” said Sandvik.

Besides, he said the strong focus on sustainability is also another common agenda for industries which could benefit companies in both countries.

According to the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade), Malaysia’s trade with Norway grew 21 per cent year-on-year with exports to Norway amounted to RM807.19 million and imports at RM1.05 billion in 2022.

Key to Norway’s success and what Malaysia can learn

Norway was ranked seventh in the World Happiness Report 2023 published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

As one of the happiest countries in the world, Sandvik said the key is to be sustainable and inculcate a culture for equal wealth distribution for the people and foster close cooperation with various stakeholders including trade unions, employers, government, and have responsible policies on wages and the financial system.

“Equal distribution also equals trust. When you trust each other, it is easier to grow and develop healthily, hence, easier to be happy and safe.

“You cannot divide people such as in terms of gender, race and land. You have to politically be responsible and provide equal opportunities including in talent as well, which is also in our welfare system,” Sandvik said.

Norway, which has only about 5.5 million population, also provides free healthcare treatment and education. — Bernama

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