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Saudi Arabia slams Norway on human rights

Written by Cecilia Helland on Sunday, 04 May 2014. Posted in Norway, Articles of Norway, Main 1, Right bottom - 8st

Norway's human rights record came in for sharp criticism during a UN hearing on Monday, with Saudi Arabia and Russia weighing in to highlight the country's shortcomings.

Read the story here

Norway: Is world’s largest sovereign wealth fund too big?

Written by Tony Harkén on Thursday, 12 September 2013. Posted in Norway, Articles of Norway, Main 3, Left 2 - 3st

Most of Europe is struggling with how to reduce spending, but not Norway.

It has invested the income from its oil and gas reserves so wisely that it now has what many consider to be the world's largest sovereign wealth fund, estimated to be worth $1tr (£0.6tr) by 2020. But is that too big?

Read the full story - Norway: Is world’s largest sovereign wealth fund too big?

Erimsa invests EUR €2.2 million in Salamanca

Written by Tony Harkén on Thursday, 18 April 2013. Posted in Norway, Articles of Norway, Main 2, Main 6 - 3st

The Norwegian company, Erimsa, part of the Chinese multinational Blue Star, has made an investment of EUR €2.2 million in the municipality of Bóveda de Río Almar (Salamanca).

The aim of this project is to produce 100,000 tons of quartz, and up to an additional 200,000 tons of aggregates for the construction industry.

The plant is located in the district of Peñaranda de Bracamonte and will create more than 50 direct jobs. It will also enable the annual production of 100,000 tons of quartz and up to 200,000 tons of aggregates for sustainable construction projects.

The new site will be operational from 1 April, and will increase the annual production of quartz by 65% compared to the facilities the company has worked in since 1996.

The company, which operates in Castilla y León and Galicia, employs more than 235 workers directly, and will be exporting the entire amount of metallurgical quartz it processes.

NCC to build new harbor in Lavik, western Norway

Written by Tony Harkén on Tuesday, 19 March 2013. Posted in Norway, Articles of Norway, Main 3, Right bottom - 8st

NCC has been commissioned to construct a new ferry harbor, as well as two new bridges, in Larvik, 120 kilometers north of Bergen.

The order is valued at approximately SEK 250 million and will be registered among orders in the first quarter of 2013.

The project is part of the refurbishment of the ferry service between Lavik and Oppedal, which in turn is part of the E39 expressway and the most important link between the north and south parts of Western Norway.

“This will be a central part of the refurbishment of the road and ferry network in this part of Norway, where we already have several other road and tunnel projects in progress,” says Henning Simonsen, District Manager at NCC Construction Norway.

The project comprises a new harbor area in Lavik, a new section of the E39 expressway near the beach area and a new bridge and intersection to public highway 607. In addition, the existing E39 through Lavik will be repaired. All this entails 1,8 kilometer of road, including 760 meters of new pedestrian and cycle paths. Parking spaces will also be built at the harbor area.

The project is scheduled for completion in August 2015.

The project will be registered among orders in the NCC Construction Norway business area.

Norway ranks high OECD’s Better Life Index

Written by Cecilia Helland on Thursday, 20 December 2012. Posted in Norway, Articles of Norway, Main 1, Main 7 - 3st

Norway performs exceptionally well in overall well-being according to ranking among the top countries in a large number of the topics in OECD’s Better Life Index.

The index is based on 11 topics the OECD has identified as essential in the areas of material living conditions and quality of life. With its low unemployment rate and high level of tertiary education and income, Oslo figures centrally in the high overall Norwegian ranking.

Read mote here

Source – Oslo Teknolpol IKS

Varner Gruppen expands operations in Finland

Written by Tony Harkén on Wednesday, 12 December 2012. Posted in Norway, Articles of Norway, Main 1, Main 7 - 3st

Leading Norwegian clothing retailer is aiming for 210 stores in Finland by the year 2015.

Norway’s leading clothing retailer Varner-Gruppen is expanding its operations in Finland. According to Varner-Gruppen’s CEO Marius Varner, the time is right for the company to focus specifically on the Finnish market.

Varner-Gruppen is aiming to have 100 Dressmann stores, 30 Carlings stores, 50 Cubus stores, and 30 Bik Bok stores in Finland by the year 2015. The latest Bik Bok store opened in the Kamppi shopping centre in Helsinki on 29 November 2012 and is aimed at fashion conscious young women.

Increased profits expected

According to Varner-Gruppen, its operating income in Finland increased from NOK 471.8 million in 2010 to NOK 524.5 million in 2011. The number of stores also increased from 71 in 2010 to 97 in 2011. The increase in operating income was due to Cubus’ entry into the market with 11 stores during 2011.

The company’s operating profit in Finland was NOK 18.2 million in 2011 and a significant improvement in operating profit is expected in 2012. Varner-Gruppen has 12 chain store concepts with a total of 1244 stores in 8 countries.

Sources: Varner-Gruppen

Norway examines corrupt aid agencies

Written by Cecilia Helland on Tuesday, 23 October 2012. Posted in Norway, Articles of Norway, Main 1, Right bottom - 8st

The entire 15 organizations have had to repay over 5 million NOK to the state since they abused and cheated with the taxpayers ‘money in 2012.

Norway is one of the countries that spend the most on aid which means that the Norwegian people must have confidence in the aid organizations. When abuse and corruption is discovered, it affects the people and their trust according to the Development Minister.

Overall, 55 cases of corruption have been discovered since 2007, which has resulted in a total of nearly 30 million NOK. Many aid agencies have closed down their businesses.

More Norwegians chose to study abroad

Written by Tony Harkén on Thursday, 06 September 2012. Posted in Norway, Articles of Norway, Main 6 - 3st, Right right

A total of 23.400 Norwegian citizens studied abroad in 2011, an increase of seven percent compared to 2010. This was a new record.

Studying in Norway is free of charge and there are great financing solutions for students who want to study abroad as well. However, some people do not think that Norwegian taxpayers should contribute for citizens who want to study abroad.

Oslo Innovation Week – Europe’s biggest Innovation convention

Written by Tony Harkén on Friday, 31 August 2012. Posted in Norway, Articles of Norway, Main 2, Main 7 - 3st

No other innovation convention in Europe has got as many separate events, involving as many people and organisations, for as many days as Oslo Innovation Week.

During the week of 15-19 October 2012, about 45 different events focused around innovation and growth will take place in the Oslo city region.

OIW is organised for the seventh time this year. To have five full days filled with various events at different locations is unique, and up to 5000 people are expected to take part in the activities. More than 100 organisations and businesses are involved in making it all happen.

The theme for this year’s convention is attractiveness for the capital region. The main aim of Oslo Innovation Week is to build bridges between entrepreneurs, investors and knowledge environments in order to promote and create new business and growth.

Oslo Teknopol is secretariat to Oslo Innovation Week. See also www.oiw.no

Oslo and Singapore take top maritime spots

Written by Tony Harkén on Sunday, 08 July 2012. Posted in Norway, Articles of Norway, Main 1, Main 6 - 3st

A new publication reveals that Singapore and Oslo are the top cities for maritime business in the world, followed by London, Hamburg and Hong Kong - but watch out for Shanghai and Rio in the next ten years.

Commissioned by Nor-Shipping, the analysts at Menon Business Economics in Oslo have now benchmarked 12 leading maritime cities in four areas: Shipping, maritime finance, maritime law and insurance, and maritime technology and competence. The rankings were dived into two categories: quantitative criteria, and global expert opinion.

The quantitative review puts Oslo at number one, followed by Singapore, London, Hamburg and Hong Kong. Oslo leads on shipowners and shipping operations, and maritime finance, and stands at number five on law and insurance, and fourth in technology and competence. Singapore scores number one on technology and competence, second in shipowners, third on law and insurance and fourth in finance.

However, the international expert panel placed Singapore on top, with London as number two and Oslo third. Singapore is perceived as the most complete hub, and is seen as being among the five leading cities by more than 70 per cent of the experts on all four areas. Oslo comes closest to Singapore in terms of completeness.

Norway still operates the fifth biggest fleet in the world, but the industry has had growing concerns that Asia had passed them by in other fields. ”When we asked for this analysis, we hoped Oslo would be among the top five, but we didn’t really anticipate coming out on top. Nonetheless, the analysis shows that we need to further develop research and innovation to stay ahead in technology and competence,” says the chairman of Oslo Maritime Network, shipowner Morits Skaugen.

The verdict for the next ten years is that Singapore will remain no 1 in the world because maritime industry is embedded into the whole economic strategy of the city state. Oslo is thought to be riding on the offshore industry development, with even more advanced vessels and knowledge based services.


”Norway has generations of experience and culture in shipping. Oslo has managed to build on that with services in finance, law and insurance, and compete globally,” says governing mayor of Oslo, Mr Stian Berger Røsland.

The Health Sector in Oslo

Written by Cecilia Helland on Sunday, 24 June 2012. Posted in Norway, Articles of Norway, Main 6 - 3st, Main 6

The Norwegian health industry has flourished in the recent years, especially in the fields of pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, with the main industry players, Photocure, Algeta and Clavis, situated in the Oslo region.

The health industry is one of the industries with highest potential, and according to a 2011 survey conducted by The Research Council of Norway, the majority of Norwegian managers believe that biotech will become as important in the future as the oil and gas industry is today.

According to a national analysis, A knowledge-based Norway, the Norwegian health industry scores high in science and innovation attractiveness – important factors in global competitiveness. One of the reasons for the high score in science and innovation is explained by the highly innovative diagnostic firms with more than 50% of firms reporting product innovation. Diagnostic and treatment firms are also dedicating substantial resources and personnel to R&D.

Furthermore, the economic activity in the Norwegian health industry is highly concentrated in the Oslo region, where the emerging health clusters are situated; Oslo Cancer Cluster, Oslo Medtech and Nansen Neuroscience Network.

The analysis also mentions health related biotechnology as the largest opportunity in the future.

More new companies are established in Norway

Written by Tony Harkén on Saturday, 09 June 2012. Posted in Norway, Articles of Norway, Main 1, Right bottom - 8st

A total of 16.279 new companies were established in Norway during the first quarter. This is an increase of 12 percent compared to 2011.

Almost half of all new companies were private limited companies. The companies were registered within construction, law, agriculture, forestry, fishing and public administration.

Norway offers the lowest unemployment rate

Written by Cecilia Helland on Tuesday, 05 June 2012. Posted in Norway, Articles of Norway, Main 7 - 3st, Main 6

Norway has a low unemployment rate. During the month of March, only 3 percent of the Norwegian labor force was unemployed.

This could be compared with Denmark at 8.1 percent, Sweden 7.3 percent and EU15 where the unemployment rate fell to the entire 10.9 percent during the same month.

Increase in petroleum tax payments

on Thursday, 24 May 2012. Posted in Norway, Articles of Norway, Left 2 - 3st, Main 5

By the end of April, NOK 297.5 billion had been paid in taxes in Norway. This is an increase of 10.2 per cent from last year. NOK 73.1 billion has been paid in taxes on extraction of petroleum.

The sum of petroleum taxes consists of NOK 27.7 billion paid in ordinary petroleum tax and NOK 45.4 billion paid in special income tax on petroleum extraction. These sums have increased by NOK 5.4 billion and NOK 9 billion respectively from the corresponding period last year.

With the exception of petroleum taxes, the tax equalisation contributions to the central government paid through the non-personal taxpaying arrangement has been the most important source of income in April. NOK 24.5 billion was paid this month and the total for this year now stands at NOK 50.9 billion.

Including petroleum taxes and ordinary taxes to municipalities, counties and the central government, taxes paid through the non-personal taxpaying arrangement total NOK 129.9 billion from January through April 2012. This represents an increase of 14.5 per cent from the corresponding period of 2011.

NOK 167.3 billion has been paid through the advance tax arrangement so far this year including NOK 31.5 billion in member contributions and NOK 46.3 billion in employer contributions to the National Insurance Scheme. The sum of these contributions has increased by 7.3 per cent from the four first months of 2011.

Source – Statistics Norway

Norwegian construction sector recruits East Europeans

Written by Tony Harkén on Wednesday, 16 May 2012. Posted in Norway, Articles of Norway, Main 7 - 3st, Main 8

An increased number of construction workers go to Norway. Currently, there are nearly 68.000 Poles working in the Norwegian building industry.

In total, there were 79.500 people that came to Norway in 2011 and one third came from Eastern Europe, according to Norway's Central Statistics Office SSB.

New state-owned company for export financing

Written by Cecilia Helland on Thursday, 03 May 2012. Posted in Norway, Articles of Norway, Main 6 - 3st, Main 6

The Norwegian Government has proposed to Parliament (Storting) the establishment of a new state-owned company to manage the Norwegian state-funded export credit scheme.

The name of the new company is to be Eksportkreditt Norge AS (Export Credit Norway).

The company will be organized as a state-owned limited liability company and is to be established by 1 July 2012.

- Export Credit Norway will be established in order to ensure a robust and competitive export financing scheme for Norwegian industry. The loans will be financed by the state, which ensures companies’ access to credit in situations where credit is not available in the capital markets. All loan applicants who meet the requirements will be offered loans, says Minister of Trade and Industry, Trond Giske.

Export Credit Norway is to provide loans for export financing in the form of state-subsidised CIRR loans and CIRR-qualified market loans on commercial terms. CIRR loans are loans granted to borrowers for financing of export projects on terms compliant with the OECD “Arrangement on Officially Supported Export Credits”. The rate of interest is fixed on conclusion of the agreement, while the loan is normally disbursed somewhat later. Before drawing on the loan, the borrower may choose to take advantage of either the previously fixed CIRR interest rate or the current market rate. Loans at the current market rate are referred to as CIRR-qualified market loans.

Export Credit Norway will take responsibility for the whole process associated with sale and promotion, processing of applications, granting, disbursing and following up loans. Loans provided by the company will be owned by the government and recorded in the government balance sheet. The company will receive grants from the government for its entire operations.

The grants will be specified by the Storting in the annual budgets. All loan applicants who meet the requirements will be offered loans, and there will be no limit concerning large exposures.  It is proposed that further rules concerning the company’s activities and the relationship to other legislation be provided by law.

(Press release)

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