Following up from our previous co-hosted virtual round-table event, the Norwegian Embassy in Australia and the Norwegian Australian Chamber of Commerce provided insights into the Norway-Australia trade relationship and how the Embassy too in Canberra is now working remotely and remaining connected everyday with their Australian political and trade counterparts, their colleagues in Perth and Melbourne as well as Australian-based Norwegian companies who have shared their Covid-19 feedback and experiences. A number of these companies reported their focus has been on bringing their people together while working remotely. DOF Subsea’s Michael Rosich and Empeiria Consultancy's Miles Ponsonby both noticed and observed that while communications have been less frequent, they have found that while working from home they have had more peace and quiet to focus on the priorities and that they are now seeing business and operations start to pick up here while others are struggling globally. As Michael Rosich shared, while it appears there have been challenges, they are actually doing better than some organisations and not as bad as others which is encouraging.
NORWEP has also been active, using this period to profile and present Norwegian companies’ energy technology capabilities via virtual sessions and by attending webinars and other online events rather than traditional office visits. From what they have been experiencing and hearing from these companies so far is that business has actually not only been positive but even more positive than expected. Norway has also been faring and managing Covid-19 better than some other countries, including one of their neighbour’s, Sweden. Overall, their interactions have revealed that Australia, New Zealand and Scandinavia in general are doing well, including recovery from the pandemic. They have also cited a shift in consumer focus, with some companies such as Ekornes, achieving good success and positive results while shipping, transport and oil industries are struggling to deal with lower prices.
Another upside, is the rise and prominence of new sectors such as renewable energy and renewable energy transition. Their conversations and discussions with DFAT have shown how like-minded nations, such as Norway and New Zealand, are ‘safe suppliers’ although there appears to now be a trend and tendency of making countries less reliant and dependent on exports and imports. But seeking reliable and like-minded partners is also coming to the forefront so that in terms of the supply chain, countries are now looking for and seeking reliable and dependable export and import partners, from retail to strategic, and that the Norwegian Embassy in Australia is here to support Norwegian companies, by building bilateral relations that develop business relationships with their Australian counterparts. The Norwegian Embassy also expressed the pleasure for them in building these bilateral relations to support the economic growth, development and exchange between our two countries.
They are also very upbeat and foresee many opportunities and sectors that are coming to the forefront and are looking at how to expand interaction and engagement between both countries and their counterparts. The post Covid-19 focus is getting Norway back on its feet especially as Norway, like Australia, has seen a 5% contraction of its economy. The upside for both our nations is low public debt and strong economies. And on a very positive note, Norway and its markets are showing upbeat and positive signs. While the outlook looks bright, Norway emphasises the importance of and need for innovation and that Norway’s doors are open…and they will continue to open doors for Australian business.