KUALA LUMPUR: Norway is optimistic of establishing a free-trade agreement (FTA) with Malaysia through the European Free-Trade Association (EFTA) by 2018.
Ambassador of Norway to Malaysia Hans Ola Urstad (pix) said Norway had just adopted an FTA with the Philippines and was negotiating a similar one with Malaysia through the EFTA, consisting of Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
“The eighth round of negotiations were held just two weeks ago in Kuala Lumpur,” he said in his opening speech at an event celebrating the 180th anniversary of the Jordan’s dental and oral care brand.
“The FTA with Malaysia must be a win-win one for both sides,” he added.
Urstad said Norway’s exports to Malaysia amounted to about RM2 billion per year, while its imports were about RM1 billion.
“Part of our exports to Malaysia is natural gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG). The service sector is much larger and more important to us,” he said.
Norwegian investments in Malaysia to date amounted to about RM19 billion in some 200 businesses and companies, said Urstad, adding that Norway is Malaysia’s ninth largest investor.
“New companies like Scatec Solar are coming in with fresh investments to build three large solar energy plants in Malaysia,” he said.
Urstad said there were about 50 Norwegian companies in Malaysia currently, with Aker Solutions by far the largest Norwegian oil and gas company in the sector.
“Norway and Malaysia have extensive cooperation particularly in the oil and gas sector as both are producers of the commodity,” he added.
Urstad said In 2015, Norway was honoured by becoming Asean’s sectoral dialogue partner when Malaysia was the chair.
He said Norway had worked hard and consistently on widening cooperation with Asean and would be participating in the Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Manila in August this year.