We had a chat with Kristine Werdelin Bergan from the Norwegian Embassy in London to learn more about their work and thoughts on the British-Norwegian relationship!


What are the most important objectives of the Embassy in London – what is done to promote Norwegian culture and Norwegian business interests in the UK? 

Promoting Norwegian business interests in the UK is one of the core tasks of the Norwegian Embassy in London. The United Kingdom is one of Norway’s most important trading partners. The UK is an important market both for our established industries and for start-ups looking for funding and international market opportunities.

The Embassy promotes Norwegian business interests by offering Norwegian businesses information about UK regulations and policy, and guidance about decision-making processes. Inquiries regarding market assistance are dealt with by Innovation Norway’s office in London. Innovation Norway is the Norwegian government agency for business and export promotion.

The Embassy also engages in promotional activities as part of the wider Team Norway network. The members of Team Norway UK are the Embassy, Innovation Norway UK, Norwegian Seafood Council UK, Norwegian Energy Partners and Norwegian British Chamber of Commerce. Promotional activities must be driven by demand from Norwegian businesses.

Norway and the UK share strong ties within arts and culture, especially within literature, music, film, visual and performing arts. The UK is among the most important markets for the export of Norwegian arts and culture but also an important international arena for the cultural sector and creative industries.

Promotion of Norwegian culture to increase export and expand international opportunities for Norwegian cultural professionals and practitioners is thus a core task for the Norwegian Embassy in London. We work closely with local, strategic partners, the Norwegian Arts Abroad Network and Norwegian cultural institutions and organisations.

The Embassy engages in various promotional, networking and trade mission activities in the UK, and supports press and expert travels to key festivals and cultural events in Norway. We also facilitate contact between Norwegian and UK institutions and organisations to extend their networks and lay the ground for future collaborations.

In your opinion, what are the three biggest obstacles companies face when expanding into the UK or Norway – what are the most important issues for them to consider? 

For many years, the biggest challenge has been uncertainty caused by Brexit. When the UK left the EU, the framework for trade and investment between Norway and the UK had to be renegotiated. We now have a comprehensive free trade agreement in place, and my impression is that most businesses have adjusted to the change. But there remains uncertainty concerning some UK policies. For instance, the seafood industry is watching carefully as the UK is developing its new regime for veterinary border control. And over time, UK regulations are likely to diverge from the regulations of the EU internal market, which Norway is part of.

What are your thoughts on the relationship between Norway and the UK going forward – what might need special attention – are there any specific areas of strength or weakness? 

Trade is one of the many areas of strength in the bilateral relationship between Norway and the UK. Our trading relationship is of great importance to both countries. We rely on trade for our standard of living, and the UK rely on Norwegian export for energy security. If you look at the UK’s overall trade, which includes both export and import of both goods and services, Norway is ranked as the UK’s 8th largest trading partner. It is important that we continue to support the trading relationship and ensure that the framework for trade is efficient and fit for purpose.


What are the most important issues for us all to consider now and in the coming years, in terms of global cooperation? 

Norway is a small economy and is dependent on international trade. Therefore, Norway has always been a strong advocate for liberal international trade and cooperation through multilateral institutions. Yet, we see that the trend of protectionism is not becoming weaker. With this as the backdrop, for Norway, it is important to work to ensure that Norwegian businesses have the same competitive advantages as the EU businesses we compete with at home, in the internal market, and that the industries we rely on for our standard of living have the market access they need to be prosperous.


What role does Team Norway have in promoting and enhancing the relationship between the UK and Norway?  

The purpose of Team Norway is to contribute to sustainable value creation in Norway through the support of Norwegian businesses in the UK. Seeing that trade is one of the cornerstones of the bilateral relationship, Team Norway can definitely play an important role in the bilateral relationship.

What is NBCC’s role in the Norwegian-British business community and within Team Norway? 

NBCC is a valued partner in Team Norway. NBCC represents a broad range of Norwegian businesses in the UK, of different sizes and from different sectors, and can therefore provide Team Norway and the Embassy with valuable insight regarding the Norwegian businesses community’s interests and needs. The fact that NBCC also represents British businesses is another strength. As a British entity, NBCC has its finger on the pulse of British industry. As such, NBCC complements the Norwegian public agencies in Team Norway.