Norway and Romania are located in two extremely opposite corners of Europe: one is the north-west, the other in the south-east, yet the relations between the two countries have started over 1000 years ago, when thousands of Scandinavians the Vikings sailed on the rivers connecting the Baltic Sea with the Black Sea, heading to Constantinopolis (nowadays Istanbul), which was at that time the capital of the Byzantine Empire. Some of those men decided to settle on the coast of the Black Sea, near Tomis (nowadays Constanța). In more recent times, due to the geographic distance, under the circumstances of the Cold War and as the Iron Curtain divided Europe for a while, the two countries did not have much contact with and did not know much about eachother. After the Romanian Revolution in December 1989, after a rather sinuous diplomatic history due to the specificities of the past century, Norway re-opened in 1991 its embassy in Bucharest, and since then the ties between our two countries grow stronger and stronger.
While the trade balance between Norway and Romania is rather modest in comparison with other countries, we can see significant changes between 2018 and 2019 with regards to imports. In March 2019 the imports to Norway from Romania reached 948 million NOK, marking a 31.7% increase since March 2018, while the imports from the EU reached 113.518 million NOK, marking a 10.3% increase, and the imports from OECD countries reached 145361 million NOK, with a 10.5% increase. In the same period, exports from Norway to Romania went up to 267 million NOK, with a decrease of 0.4%, while exports to EU reached 200.012 million NOK, with an increase of 0.3%, and exports to OECD reached 218.588 million NOK, with no significant change since March 2018.
The economic exchanges between the two countries are stimulated by the activity of the Norwegian companies operating in Romania and by the launching of the EEA and Norway Grants. Currently, the most important five Norwegian companies operating in Romania are VARD, ORKLA FOODS, BRODRENE DAHL, PARAT RO and VISMA SOFTWARE. The most recent data show that these companies have over 5900 employees and that their cumulated annual turnover rises to 984.981.910 lei.
With a mission to facilitate and stimulate the economic ties between the two countries, the Norwegian-Romanian Chamber of Commerce was founded in 2010 and has 87 members: Norwegian and Romanian companies, NGOs and public institutions. Over the years, shipyards and companies in shipping, crewing, production, food, green energy and consultancy have become a part of the NOROCC family.
Recently NOROCC facilitated the signing of a partnership between the University of Petrol and Gas from Ploiești and the University of Stavanger, with the aim of submitting together a project to be funded by the EU through the Horizon 2020 programme (February-March 2018), partnered with the Foundation West University Timișoara in a project funded through EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Regional Cooperation, aimed at building trust in the legal system, democracy and the rule of law to pupils in Romania, Czechia and the Republic of Moldova (July 2018), and supports a 2.35 million Euro project, mainly financed with the help of Innovation Norway, written by a Norwegian and a Romanian company working with hydro power in Timișoara area (March 2019).
We dare say the relations between our countries have never been better than today, when Norway has launched a second round for its extensive financial assistance program for the Central and Eastern European member states of the EU, based on its membership to the European Economic Area and de-facto membership in the European internal market and Schengen. Let us conclude by saying that Norway and Romania have a lot of potential for developing an even deeper and closer cooperation.