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Posts Tagged ‘Norwegian krone’

Exports of defence-related products from Norway in 2012

Posted by African Press International on October 5, 2013

The Government is today presenting the annual white paper to the Storting on Norwegian exports of defence-related products, export control and international non-proliferation efforts.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ processing of applications for the export of defence-related products has become more stringent. Decisions are now based on even more thorough assessments of conditions within potential recipient countries than was the case before,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide.

In 2012, the total value of exports of defence-related products, technology and services for military purposes, production rights, brokering, and dual-use items for military use was almost NOK 4.6 billion. Of this amount, exports of defence-related products accounted for around NOK 3.9 billion.

The main recipients of defence-related products from Norway are Norway’s allies and other European countries.

Norwegian defence industry companies are dependent on good and predictable conditions. They play an important role in value creation and technology development. The Government intends to facilitate continued exports by having strict and clear regulations,” said Mr Eide.

One area in which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ practice in this area has become more stringent is the risk assessments that are made concerning the use of defence-related products for internal repression in the recipient country concerned. The requirements for documentation identifying the end-user have also been made stricter. Altogether, 18 applications for export licences for defence-related products were refused in 2012.

Updated guidelines for the Ministry’s processing of applications to export defence-related products were published on 16 September. The white paper that is now being presented describes the work to further tighten export control procedures.

“In recent years, the Government has increased transparency on exports of defence-related products. This is important for maintaining confidence in Norwegian export control legislation, and for ensuring support for companies that are vitally important for our national security and defence capability,” said Mr Eide.

The white paper provides detailed information on the types of military goods that have been exported, the countries they have been exported to, and the value of the exports. It also contains information on the export licence applications that have been refused.

The white paper also discusses Norwegian legislation and multilateral cooperation on export control and non-proliferation.

The total value of sales of weapons and ammunition (Category A materiel) was NOK 3.3 billion in 2012, while the value of sales of other goods that have been specifically developed or modified for military purposes (Category B materiel) was NOK 574 million. The value of exports of these goods increased by around 8 % from 2011 to 2012.

The main recipients of defence-related products from Norway are NATO countries, and Sweden and Finland. In 2012, 78 % of Norway’s total exports of Category A materiel and 90 % of Norway’s total exports of Category B materiel were to these countries.

 

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New Norwegian funding to secure tax revenues in developing countries

Posted by African Press International on September 2, 2013

Norway will support African countries in the negotiation of fair agreements with international companies that are exploiting their natural resouces,”said Minister of International Development Heikki Eidsvoll Holmås. Mr Holmås met the President of the African Development Bank, Donald Kaberuka,in Oslo this week to sign an agreement on an additional NOK 30 million in support. 

Many developing countries are rich in natural resources but their populations remain very poor. One of the reasons for this is that multinational companies have negotiated unfair agreements with national authorities on the exploitation of natural resources such as minerals, oil and gas. This has led to conflicts and continued poverty.

“Norway is seeking to help turn Africa’s ‘resource curse’ into a ‘resource blessing’ by supporting the negotiation of better contract terms. The aim is for the countries to strengthen their own revenues and economies, and in the long term for them to be able to manage without aid,” said Mr Holmås.

Whereas the authorities in many African countries lack the legal expertise they need, multinational companies have their own experts in tax law and commercial law. Norway has now agreed to provide NOK 30 million over a period of two years to strengthen the negotiating capacity of African countries. This work will be carried out through the African Legal Support Facility, which is hosted by the African Development Bank, and which provides legal assistance in the negotiation of contracts and in settling disputes between multinational companies and the authorities in African countries.

“This work also enhances financial transparency surrounding contracts which is crucial to be able to uncover and stop illicit financial flows. Every year ten times as much money disappears out of developing countries through illicit financial flows as is received in the form of aid and development support,” Mr Holmås stressed.

Norway provided NOK 768 million in support to the African Development Bank in 2012. Inclusive growth and the transition to green growth are the two main objectives of the Bank’s Strategy for 2013–2022, which also identifies fragile states, agriculture and food security and gender as areas of special emphasis. The strategy is consistent with Norway’s development policy priorities, as set out in the recent white paper on fair distribution, Sharing for prosperity.

 

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Norway first in the world to audit developing country debt

Posted by African Press International on August 18, 2013

A new report of developing countries’ debt owed to Norway, was presented in Oslo yesterday. “Norway is the first country in the world to have carried out an independent audit of debt agreements. We are doing this to make sure that we are living up to our responsibility as a lender to developing countries,” said Minister of International Development Heikki Eidsvoll Holmås.

Unmanageable debt burdens are one of the fundamental causes of poverty in developing countries. While the international community gives USD 141 billion in aid to developing countries annually, the developing countries pay back USD 464 billion each year to their creditors. Many of the debt agreements were entered into when economic, political and social conditions were uncertain.

“Although the solvency of many countries, such as Brazil, is improving, the debt burden is hampering development in some poor countries. These countries are having difficulty servicing old debt agreements made on unfavourable terms. We now want to address this,” said Mr Holmås, who referred to the first creditor-initiated debt audit as a milestone in Norwegian and international debt policy.

The audit report has been carried out by Deloitte under commission from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It covers 34 debt agreements with seven countries: Egypt, Indonesia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan and Zimbabwe. Most of the agreements are between 20 and 30 years old. The debts have a total value of almost NOK 1 billion, and when interest on overdue payments is added to this, the total amount is almost four times as much. The report shows that the agreements were largely concluded in accordance with the previous rules and regulations, and partially in accordance with the current rules and the UNCTAD principles. However, it also identifies weaknesses in some of the agreements, which the Government will examine more closely.

“We are once again demonstrating that we are leading the way when it comes to international debt policy, which was a goal for the current coalition Government. We have cancelled almost NOK 7 billion in debts owed to Norway by developing countries over the last eight years, and this has helped the countries to release national resources for poverty reduction. I am pleased that Norway is setting new standards for using the UNCTAD Principles on Promoting Responsible Sovereign Lending and Borrowing, and I urge other countries to follow suit,” said Mr Holmås.

 

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Government triples funding for combating forest crime through INTERPOL

Posted by African Press International on August 10, 2013

The Norwegian Government is stepping up its efforts to combat deforestation. Around 40 % of logging in tropical forests is illegal. “The world’s “green lungs” need to be protected. The Government’s decision to triple its support for INTERPOL is a clear signal that we take the fight against illegal logging seriously,” said Minister of International Development Heikki Eidsvoll Holmås.

The International Climate and Forest Initiative is a priority area for the Norwegian Government. Norway is now increasing its support for phase two of an international police cooperation project targeting the illegal logging industry, which is worth between NOK 240 billion and NOK 600 billion globally. The efforts that Norway is supporting have so far helped to ensure that illegal timber worth NOK 288 million has been seized.

“It is crucial that we fight the organised criminal networks that are earning huge amounts of money from deforestation. There is no point spending lots of money on rainforest conservation if criminals then simply chop the forest down,” Mr Holmås said.

Norway is also allocating NOK 15 million to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) for projects targeting forest crime.

Through INTERPOLs Project LEAF, Norway is supporting training for national police authorities in investigating and taking action against illegal logging. In the most recent operation, rainforest timber equivalent to 20 000 truckloads was seized by police in Venezuela and Costa Rica. Similar operations are being planned in Asia and Africa.

Project LEAF (Law Enforcement Assistance for Forests) is a consortium initiative led by INTERPOL and the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) centre in Norway (UNEP GRID Arendal). The initiative is funded by the Government of Norway and managed by Norad (the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation.

 

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Norway allocates NOK 700 million to Tanzanian rural energy fund after a recent conference in Oslo

Posted by African Press International on April 18, 2013

Norway and Tanzania have signed an agreement under which Norway will provide NOK 700 million to Tanzania over a four-year period. This funding will be channelled to a rural energy fund in Tanzania that will give people in rural areas access to electricity.

“Access to electricity is essential for reducing poverty and generating economic growth. Providing electricity in rural areas is a way of giving the majority of the population in Tanzania the freedom to choose not to use paraffin, diesel and other less reliable energy sources that are damaging to health. Electricity provides light for doing homework and opportunities for creating jobs and generating income, and enables health clinics to function better,” said Minister of International Development Heikki Eidsvoll Holmås.

Mr Holmås and Tanzanian Minister of Energy and Minerals Sospeter Muhongo signed the agreement in Oslo on 9 April. Both of them were taking part in the High Level Meeting on Energy and the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

In Tanzania, eight out of ten people live in rural areas. Of these people, only 6 % have access to modern forms of energy. Increasing access to energy will take many years and will require substantial public subsidies. The rural energy fund is the Tanzanian authorities’ most important tool in this context. The fund will be managed by the Rural Energy Agency (REA). Sweden, the World Bank and the EU are also supporting the fund. Norway will now be the biggest single donor to the fund.

“Increased access to electricity is absolutely essential for ensuring equitable development in Tanzania. Having said this, it is difficult to achieve. Those who use electricity have to pay for it themselves. We will keep a close eye on the quality of individual projects, as well as making sure that necessary reforms are carried out, that the Rural Energy Agency has sufficient capacity and that any threats to sustainability are addressed,” Mr Holmås commented.

So far, more than 90 % of the investments in the fund have gone to expanding the electricity grid, as this is the most effective way of reaching rural areas. But the funds from Norway will also be used for local solutions enabling the production of renewable energy in areas that are not covered by the electricity grid.

Tanzania’s aim is to increase the percentage of the population that has access to electricity from 14.5 % to 30 % on a national basis, and from 6.5 % to 15 % in rural areas, by 2025. In order to achieve this, investments in the rural energy fund will probably need to increase tenfold.

“Tanzania aims to become a middle-income country in the space of 12 years. We will gradually scale down our assistance to the country as this process proceeds. Increased access to electricity is absolutely essential if Tanzania is to achieve its goal. In order to succeed, Tanzanians must think big and improve their systems over and above the individual project level. The agreement between Norway and Tanzania is divided into two phases to ensure that the quality of projects is as intended and that the efforts to bring energy to the rural population progress according to plan,” Mr Holmås said.

 

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