A trans-Atlantic business bridge
Norway’s Foreign Secretary Børge Brende once said that in our work, “we strengthen the ties across the Atlantic further. The Norwegian government finds a crucial partner in the American Chamber of Commerce in Norway. Together, AmCham and the Norwegian government are ensuring that the Atlantic does not act as a barrier between our two countries, but rather as a bridge.”
AmCham was formally founded as a business association in January 1998. In 1999, it merged with Norwegian-American Chamber of Commerce USA and became AmCham Norway. AmCham is located at Arbinsgate in Oslo, where Henrik Ibsen had his flat. It has a future- and member-oriented leadership with Pål Rokke of Citi Norway as chairman and Jason Turflinger as managing director.
AmCham works proactively with NACC USA and its chapters on business opportunities and to serve the members’ further development of trade and commerce between our two countries. The focus is primarily on event facilitation, member-to-member business assistance, advocacy initiatives, and networking. AmCham also promotes member events, for example recent programs about artificial intelligence, communication, and leadership in new times.
AmCham also has initiatives targeting young business leaders, such as the collaboration between AmCham and the U.S. Embassy in the Rising Leaders program, and the AmCham Mentorship Program. In Rising Leaders, young leaders from a variety of backgrounds are selected to gain experience with business leaders. Twenty-two young people have been chosen for 2018-19.
The mentorship initiative matches young professionals with leaders from international companies to foster inter-industry dialogue and share best practices. Next year will see a record 34 participants.
AmCham’s activities center around events, member services, and advocacy. Recently, it had a program about sustainability. “The carrot works better than the stick when motivating companies to develop a pro-sustainability agenda,” guest speaker Jens Frølich Holte from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told guests. He highlighted the importance of collaboration with the private sector.
Not so well known is the chamber’s successful work with investment and trade issues, and its contributions to policy. It appealed a sugar tax to halt imbalanced product tax implementation. In addition, AmCham writes letters to the European Commission on European Intellectual Property, and sends comments to members of U.S. Congress regarding relevant issures.
For many years, AmCham brought the Norwegian American Weekly to Stortinget!
AmCham’s traditional Thanksgiving Charity Dinner on Nov. 20 included remarks from Minister of Trade Torbjørn Røe Isaksen, country head of BioGen in Norway Kristin Nyberg, and U.S. Ambassador Kenneth J. Braithwaite. The menu—prepared jointly by the Grand kitchen and Stavanger’s famous chef Craig Whitson—included roast turkey with stuffing, ham, gravy, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, pies, and California wines. Not bad for celebrating in the old country. This year’s raffle and auction proceeds of NOK 91,000 went to The Ocean Cleanup, which removes plastic from the sea.
“We are friends, trading partners, and close allies—working together to create jobs and promote common values,” said Isaksen. “According to a report presented last year, Norwegian companies and investments are supporting nearly half a million jobs in the United States. Equally … the United States is a major contributor to jobs, welfare, and happiness here.”
“How the U.S. and Norway can cooperate to find success in health and innovation, we can look to the unique collaborative environment in Boston,” said Nyberg. “There, our headquarters are on the same street as MIT, Harvard, and several biotech companies. The researchers there have breakfast with students, lunch with CEOs, and dinner with investors. That is the key to success for all parties—a triangle of academia, healthcare professionals, and investors. We will make Norway an even better place to do business in the future.”
Rasmus Falck is a strong innovation and entrepreneurship advocate. The author of “What do the best do better” and “The board of directors as a resource in SME,” he received his master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently lives in Oslo, Norway.
This article originally appeared in the December 14, 2018, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.