"Economic diplomacy is an important part of my responsibilities."

The CCFN opens its doors to Niels Engelschiøn, the Ambassador of Norway to France.

Could you please share with our readers a few words about your background and the strong ties you have with France?

First of all it is a great privilege as a Norwegian diplomat to serve as ambassador to France, a great nation and there are a wide variety of common interests between our two countries. To me, it is also a strong personal link, as my mother was French with ancestors from Brittany. She met my father in Paris in 1954 and moved to Norway in 1956. I have kept strong bonds with France and my French family, and hopefully my background and language can help me fulfilling my task in the interest of my country.


How would you assess the industrial and economic cooperation existing between France and Norway? What are the main subjects you wish to deal with as a priority at the start of your new position as an ambassador?

The economic, commercial and industrial ties are very strong, not least in the field of the energy sector where we have a long tradition for cooperation, and French companies were vital in the development of Norwegian offshore activities. Today Norwegian gas serves France with more than 40 percent of French consumption. And of course - France is the third biggest importer of fish and fisheries products. But this concerns mainly raw material, and I am convinced that there is a potential in other sectors. We see that many large Norwegian companies are present in France, and I am also pleased to see that ICT companies are making progress now. We should ensure that we further our cooperation in fields like renewable energy, aerospace and aviation industry, defence and ICT. France has a very strong reputation in many industrial sectors, although there may still be some hesitance from Norwegian actors, whether it is due to lack of language skills or lack of knowledge of French know-how. To Norwegians, French business is mainly linked to French brands, not least in the luxury sector and agricultural products, and perhaps less knowledge about the very advanced technology sectors. If I can contribute to increased contacts and cooperation between Norwegian and French companies and increased investments, I would be very pleased.


A new government just got elected in Norway, putting a left-wing coalition in power after 8 years of right-wing government. To which extent shall this have an impact on the French-Norwegian cooperation?

To any government, France is an important European and global partner for Norway, whether it is in the European Economic Area or in the UN, where Norway now is an elected member for the Security Council and France being a Permanent member. The actual government has a very strong commitment to cooperation with France,  and I have no reason to believe that any new government will end or reduce that commitment.


The French-Norwegian Chamber of Commerce is a part of the Team Norway in Paris. How do you feel our organization and network could cooperate with your services to strengthen bilateral economic and trade cooperation?

I know that our joint efforts through Team Norway in Paris and Oslo has a very strong reputation, and we should together follow-up the very good work that has been done the past years, even through a very difficult pandemic. My message is clear – use the Embassy and me if that gives a value-added. If I can contribute to open some doors or create venues for businesses to meet, I would be more than happy to do so. Economic diplomacy is an important part of my responsibilities as head of mission and ambassador, and I will not take lightly on that task.

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