Norway profits from US trade

The annual value of goods exported to United States is more than $7 billion

By John Erik Stacy 17 October 2008

Raw materials and technologyMajorExportItems

The Beatles once sang of “Norwegian Wood”, but what does Norway export and what portion of its exports reach the US? Before the 1970s North Sea oil age, traditional products such as lumber and fish dominated goods produced in Norway and virtually all export was destined for Europe. These days, the United States is a significant target for Norwegian exports, comprising almost 6% of the total goods sold on world markets. The annual value of these goods to the US is now over $7 billion. About $4 billion of this trade in 2007 was petroleum related and metals exported to the US were worth almost a billion. Although the bulk of Norway’s export value is in raw materials, there is a strong technology component. Telecommunications equipment sold for hundreds of millions of dollar yearly over the last years, followed by oil field equipment, other high tech equipment, pharmaceuticals and military equipment. Also, tens of millions of dollars worth of “design” furniture from Norway finds its way to American buyers yearly. Interestingly, the year 2007 saw a strong spike to over one hundred million in the value of the “artwork, antiques and collectibles” category, which in preceding years was closer to ten million. Although Norway’s shipbuilding industry is now long gone, there is still some tens of millions in sales of boats and maritime related equipment to the US. Fish, the traditional export item, yielded about $150 million in sales to the US last year, whereas Norwegian wood products (other than furniture) produced only about $7 million.

Appetite for US goods growing in NorwayTradeAcrossNorwegianBorders

Norway is on the plus side of import-export equation with the US to the tune of over four billion (about what is spent on Norwegian oil). However, a glance at trends in US-Norwegian trade shows appreciable increases in the Nordic appetite for goods from America. The value of shipments from the US has increased at about 20% per year since 2005. Overall growth in the value of goods reaching American shores from the Old Country is more modest over these same years. This is somewhat surprising considering that oil has more than tripled in value on the interval since 2004 but can be at least partly explained by the fact that crude oil and LP gas sales to the US have been trending downward since 2004. Technology products, on the other hand, have seen double digit growth in many instances. Exports of Norwegian telecom equipment has grown from $94 to $190 million, averaging about 19% increase per year, from 2003 to 2007. In the category “Medicinal, dental and pharmaceutical preparations” export value to the BalanceOfTradeUS has increased at an average annual rate of about 18% over the past five years. Similarly, the value of shipments of “Scientific, medical and hospital equipment” to the US have increased by about 16% per year on the interval. Mainstream consumer items have also made gains, including furniture (13%), pleasure boats and motors (14%), dairy (6%) and alcoholic beverages (87%). On that note, it seems glasses can be raised to “skol i akvavit” in both countries!

This article was also published in the Norwegian American Weekly. For more information about the Norwegian American Weekly or to subscribe, call us toll free (800) 305-0217 or email

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