Bilateral trade with India doubled to $2 billion in the past two years, says Ambassador of Norway

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Hans Jacob Frydenlund, Norway Ambassador to India.

Hans Jacob Frydenlund, Norway Ambassador to India.
| Photo Credit: R. Ragu

Bilateral trade between India and Norway has doubled to $2 billion in the last two years, Norway’s Ambassador to India, Hans Jacob Frydenlund, said on Monday.

During an interaction with journalists at The Hindu’s office here, Mr. Frydenlund elaborated on Norway’s interests in climate investments, clean energy and ocean technology, among others.  He was in the city to take part in the silver jubilee celebration of the National Institute of Ocean Technology.

Norway would invest $1 billion from its climate investment fund in five years worldwide, Mr. Frydenlund said, adding that how much of the funds would be invested in in India would depend on the projects. “We are quite confident that a substantial part of the investments will take part in India,” he said.

“India is one of the countries with large potential for solar [energy]. Most of the investment has been in solar [energy infrastructure],” he said.

To a query on Norway’s possible interest in offshore wind energy, Mr. Frydenlund said his country was working with the National Institute of Wind Energy, and that there were a number of companies active here. The problem in India, when it came to wind energy, was that only Tamil Nadu and Gujarat had stable wind to make it viable, he added.

Replying to a query on the ship-breaking industry in India, especially in Alang in Gujarat, the Norwegian Ambassador said Norway has the fifth largest commercial fleet in the world, and ship recycling was crucial to keep up a modern fleet, both for environmental as also for competitive reasons. Norway was cooperating closely with India over this, he said.

Recalling the visit of Norway’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, whom Mr. Frydenlund accompanied to Alang, the Ambassador said they had urged India to join the Hong Kong Convention, which India did eventually.

“So, we are working closely together to find a way to get enough countries to ratify the Hong Kong Convention. It will be a binding international legal instrument,” he said. “With just more nation, Bangladesh, signing up, the Hong Kong Convention would come into force.”

On Thursday, a joint working group on maritime issues between Norway and India would meet in Mumbai to discuss this subject, among others, he said. Officials from Norway’s Ministry of Trade and Commerce, and officials from the Norwegian Shipowners Association, would take part.

Speaking about ties between institutions in Tamil Nadu and Norway, he underscored academic relations between the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras and the Institute of Wind Energy in Chennai with institutions in Norway.

The Norwegian company, Piql, was involved in creating a digital archive for Indian monuments such as the Taj Mahal, he said. The company was also involved in digitalising historical monuments — Dholavira in Gujarat and the Bhimbhetka Caves in Madhya Pradesh.

Asked about former Norwegian peace envoy to Sri Lanka, Erik Solheim, being back in Sri Lanka as an international climate adviser, Mr. Frydenlund said Mr. Solheim was not an official representative of Norway and was acting in his own capacity.

On whether Norway would be interested in being a mediator for ethnic and other issues in Sri Lanka, Mr. Frydenlund said, “We don’t move in without being invited from both sites, we don’t consider it without being invited from both sides. Because anything else would be extremely difficult. And we are a small country, we cannot impose ourselves.”

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