Luncheon at the Norwegian-Latvian Business Forum
Mr Prime Minister
Ladies and gentlemen
Damas un kungi (Ladies and gentlemen)
The Crown Princess and I have been very much looking forward to our first official visit to Latvia. Our countries share a long history of strong bilateral relations and the cooperation today is as extensive and comprehensive as ever. In business, research, culture, defence and the justice sector – just to mention a few. We are both part of the Nordic-Baltic region, and we share common interests and values. Our cooperation is important. Together we are stronger.
Trade between our countries dates back many centuries. In the Middle Ages, the Norwegian city of Bergen developed strong trading links with the Baltic countries through the Hanseatic League – in particular with the city of Riga. These links are still strong. Business and trade is an important part of our relations today. This is also clearly reflected in the number of participants at this event.
The comprehensive and interesting programme you have experienced today included topics of key importance for both our countries’ economies. In addition, this event is also an excellent opportunity to exchange views and experiences, to establish new contacts – and maybe even make some new business deals?
Latvia is an attractive market for Norwegian investors and businesses, and has been so since the early 1990s. More than 300 Norwegian companies are present in Latvia today. In terms of foreign investment by country, these companies combined are the seventh largest investor in Latvia. At the same time, the presence of Latvian companies in Norway is increasing. Nearly 10 000 Latvians are currently living and working in Norway. Latvian doctors, nurses, construction workers and many others are making important contributions to the Norwegian economy.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The world today is changing rapidly, and we have to act in a responsible manner. Global changes require global solutions – solutions that are sustainable and inclusive. Private sector involvement is vital, and the sector plays a key role in delivering the technology, the capital and the solutions needed to achieve sustainable development. This is clearly stated in the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Norway is also affected by these global changes. Therefore, we are working hard to promote innovation and business development, and to diversify our economy. We are very interested in learning from others and sharing experience.
Under the EEA Agreement, Norway contributes to economic and social development in Europe through the EEA and Norway Grants. The aim is to promote increased value creation and sustainable growth. The implementation of projects under the grants scheme is also strengthening our bilateral relations. Preparations are underway for the new funding period in Latvia, which will pave the way for business partnerships in areas such as the environment and green industry innovation, both at national and regional level.
There are many opportunities for our two countries to develop our business relations further. We are close allies and partners – as proven through our history, and reflected in longstanding friendships and common interests.
I hope today’s business forum will serve as a platform for translating our common will into new business partnerships.