Overseas Business Risk – Norway
Political and Economic
The tragic events of 22 July 2011, when a Norwegian citizen killed and injured more than 100 people in attacks on government buildings and political youth summer camp, have led to a heightened awareness of the possibility of terrorist attacks on Norwegian soil. However Norway remains a safe country in which to live and visit and provides a risk free business environment.
Norway remains in 2012 at the top of the UN list of best countries in the world in which to live. Living standards are high, the economy robust and unemployment low.
In 1999, the Norwegian parliament, the Storting, adopted a specific Human Rights Act which states that the European convention on human rights and the two UN conventions from 1966 shall be part of Norwegian law. Where the human rights conventions conflict with other sections of Norwegian law, human rights shall take precedence.
In Norway, as elsewhere, respecting the rights of children and adults who may be especially vulnerable because of race, sexual preference, gender, age or illness may be a challenge. The task of making sure that international standards with respect to human rights are upheld, and especially for these groups, is given to Norwegian local authorities. The standard of care provided in homes for the elderly, centres for asylum seekers, childcare and other care centres is also monitored by a variety of independent authorities in the form of ombudsmen.
In business Norway aspires to play a leading role in upholding the principles of human rights. Supporting projects in South America, Asia and Africa to maintain ecological systems with sustainable farming and forestry are examples of how Norway is helping to protect the rights of indigenous peoples. Working with fair-trade initiatives, enforcing fishing quotas on her fishing fleets to maintain fish stocks and refusing to invest in suspect funds and business projects are other examples of the high standard that Norway aspires to.
In 2003 Norway passed a law which stated that 40% of company board members shall be women. Norway aspires to ensure equal payment for men and women and to provide equal rights in the workplace regardless of gender, handicap, race or sexual preference.
Bribery and Corruption
Bribery is illegal. It is an offence for British nationals or someone who is ordinarily resident in the UK, a body incorporated in the UK or a Scottish partnership, to bribe anywhere in the world.
In addition, a commercial organisation carrying on a business in the UK can be liable for the conduct of a person who is neither a UK national or resident in the UK or a body incorporated or formed in the UK. In this case it does not matter whether the acts or omissions which form part of the offence take place in the UK or elsewhere.
Norway ranked 6th in 2011. It is therefore unlikely that companies will be faced with requests for bribes when doing business in Norway.
One point worth noting is that Norway is the location of the This organisation works for good governance and transparency in the oil, gas and mining industries, and the countries benefiting from them.
Furthermore the focus of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is as prominent in Norway as in the UK. Norwegian industry, particularly within the oil and gas sector sometimes operates in challenging political environments. This has resulted in CSR moving high on the Authorities’ agenda. In 2009 a White Paper on CSR was ratified by Parliament. the first of its kind in the world.
discusses the ethics of corporate gifts. When do these become bribes? Practice has changed considerably in the past year or two and it is now much less acceptable for Norwegian businesses to give gifts to trading partners and associates.
Protective Security Advice
Norway is a modern, safe country to visit. However, like any other destination, street crime does happen and care should be taken to protect belongings from pick-pockets and thieves. Care should always be taken when using bank terminals and cash points. Credit and bank cards should be protected when using pin codes. Likewise it is wise not to hand over bank cards to restaurant and café staff. Bank terminals are usually brought to the customer’s table