On May 1 7 , the most northern country of Europe celebrated its national holiday – the Constitution Day. However, the history of the full independence of this industrially developed country is really not that long – it has lasted a bit more than a hundred years, since the peaceful “divorce” with the Swedish crown in 1905.
The name of the country is translated as “the path to the north.” It is commonly known that Norway is a country of fiords. And also a country of mountains, glaciers and swamps – about 70 per cent of the country’s territory, which is twice as less as that of Ukraine, is not fit for living, and the share of arable land in it does not exceed 3 per cent ( in Ukraine, it is over 50 per cent ). The population of the Kingdom of Norway is ten times as less as that that of Ukraine, but they live longer and in greater wealth – its GDP per capita (taking into account the parity of the purchasing capacity ) is bigger by more than 7 times.
Oil and gas
So where has been the secret? The country possesses large deposits of oil and gas and manages them in a wise way. Norway is the 8 th largest producer and 3 rd largest exporter of natural gas in the world (following Russia and Canada) , as well as the 3 rd largest exporter of crude oil (following Saudi Arabia and Russia ). Proceeds from the export of oil and gas accounts for more than 20 per cent of the GDP of Norway , and in 1995 the Government started to save up “ money from oil and gas ” by setting up the Government Pension Fund. By 2007, the Fund already accumulated about USD 300 bln (i. e. more than USD 62,000 per head of the population) and at present it is the second largest fund in the world among so called funds of national welfare, following that of the United Arab Emirates.
And of course , it has been about fish , the yearly catch of which is as much as over 500 kg per each Norwegian! The country exports about 90 per cent of the volume of its fish produce, which is worth more than USD 4.5 bln per year, to 150 countries of the world. The traditional objects of fishery are Norwegian cod, herring, and mackerel, as well as shrimps, crabs and so on . In addition to the Norway and Barents Seas, modern fish enterprises are an important source of sea products for Norway. More than 40 per cent of the Norwegian export of sea products – first of all, salmon – is now produced at fish farms .
Norway and the European Union
If journalist were given an opportunity to take an interview in Norway , the No. 1 question , with no doubt , would have been : “ Why don’t you accede to the European Union?” And for sure , this is so strange thing , when such an obviously European and industrially developed country , a long time member of the WTO , CSCE , NATO and so forth is still not a member of and even not a candidate for membership in the EU !
The relations between Norway and the EU have been developing just like in the story about unsuccessful treaties for marriage : by turn, the two sides had been proposing to each other , but finally never married. Back in 1960s, Norway twice submitted formal applications for the membership , but it had not been admitted to enter to then the European Economic Community (the predecessor of the EU) at that time. On the other hand, in 1972 and 1994 , it would have been readily admitted, but on both occasions the negative results of the relevant referendums in Norway had blocked the country’s way towards the accession.
So, why don’t they join? It is often said that the reason is waste natural resources of Norway – oil and gas, fish reserves, “socialization” of which the country is supposedly concerned about…
Norway and Ukraine
In 2008, the volume of the merchandise trade between the two countries came to almost USD 420 mln , with a prevalence of Ukraine’s import over its export by almost 2 times, with more than a half of the whole import consisting of fish. Even the crisis and the artificially imposed restrictions have failed to defeat passion of Ukrainians for herrings, as in the 1 st quarter of 2009 Ukraine increased the import of Norwegian herring as compared to the same period of 2008 and thus became the 3 rd largest importer of the product, following Russia and Nigeria.The Norwegian-Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce, which has been recently established , will be promoting further development of the trade and economic cooperation between our countries.