The Chamber’s main objectives remain the same today as they were at the outset: To promote bilateral trade between Norway and Britain and to be the most important organisation for Norwegian-British business people in the UK.
However, cooperation across the North Sea played a significant role for Norwegians long before NBCC saw the light of day. For more than 1000 years trade and cultural exchange – and for a short period also less peaceful Viking activities – have taken place between the two countries. For centuries fishing, forestry and mining produced valuable goods for export from Norway to the UK. During a long period leading up to the creation of NBCC the timber trade dominated – after having taken over after major medieval favourites such as stockfish and later canned fish. Shipping has of course also been essential throughout Norway’s history.
From the 1670s many Norwegians settled in London, however the Norwegian colony almost died out after the Great Northern War at the beginning of the 18th century put a stop to the timber trade between Norway and Britain. However, the hostilities soon passed and since then new generations of Norwegians have moved to the UK – for longer or shorter periods of time. Many have settled in the UK – as also many Brits have settled in Norway.
Today the offshore industry in the North Sea is key to the economic collaboration between Norway and the UK, and the UK is still Norway’s largest market for export of goods. Petroleum and petroleum products are important export commodities, alongside machinery, metals, chemicals, ships and fish. However, NBCC’s members today represent between 20 and 30 different industries, and it is important to realise that the links between our two countries far extends export and import of goods and the supply of Norwegian energy to the UK. Tourism is a major business, and tourists flock both ways across the sea. UK universities are ever popular amongst Norwegian students – something which contributes to maintaining the close relationship. The two countries also meet on the cultural scene – and nor should one not forget the many Norwegian football players in the Premier League. The Norwegian Christmas Tree on Trafalgar Square is in many ways a symbolic marker – of the friendship and close ties between two neighbouring countries, separated and united by the North Sea.
Summing up, both trade, cultural and political relations between Norway and Britain remain as strong as ever. In January 2011 Prime Ministers David Cameron and Jens Stoltenberg signed a joint declaration entitled “Norway and the United Kingdom – A Bilateral and Global Partnership”. The agreement sets out priorities for cooperation in business, energy and climate, science, conflict resolution, development aid and international security. The aim is to, inter alia, strengthen the trade and investment relationship in areas such as energy and low carbon technologies, financial services, maritime industries, IT, biotech and consumer goods and services. The Norwegian-British Chamber of Commerce will certainly play its part in further strengthening the bilateral relationship.
1906The Norwegian Chamber of Commerce is founded.
1910Agreement of commercial arbitration between Norway and the UK.
1913NBCC secures its first office under its own roof in Kingsway.
1915NBCC begins publishing its monthly Anglo-Norwegian Trade Journal, which appears regularly until 1988 apart from a brief period during WWII.
1921Norway House in Cockspur Street off Trafalgar Square is officially opened. NBCC and other Norwegian institutions in London secure offices in the building.
1931NBCC celebrates its 25th anniversary in the presence of its Royal Patron, King Haakon VII.
1939-45WWII. The Norwegian king and government transfer to London after the German occupation of April 1940. NBCC plays an important part in the creation of Nortraship, which operates 1200 merchant ships in 1940-45.
1956NBCC celebrates its 50th anniversary at the Mansion House in the presence of Crown Prince Olav.
1960The creation of the European Free Trade Area (EFTA).
1974Britain and Norway choose different paths when the UK joins the European Community.
1990The organisation changes its name to the Norwegian-British Chamber of Commerce (NBCC).
1994Norway again rejects membership of the European Union.
1997Norway House is sold. NBCC moves to the Norwegian Trade Centre in Lower Regent Street, which today are the offices of Innovation Norway.
2006NBCC celebrates its centenary in the presence of King Harald V and Queen Sonja.