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Economic Overview

For the latest updates on the key economic responses from governments to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the IMF's policy tracking platform Policy Responses to COVID-19.

Norway's Covid-19-led economic downturn remained limited compared to most European countries: after losing only 0.8% in the aftermath of the pandemic, the country’s GDP was estimated at +3% in 2021, thanks to a strong rebound in private consumption and an increase in employment, which offset declining investments. Benefitting from higher oil and gas prices (Norway’s main exports), from 2022 economic output is projected to be running slightly above the pre-pandemic path. The economy is forecast to grow by 4.1% this year, before slowing to 2.9% in 2023 (IMF), although uncertainty remains due to the new waves of the pandemic and to the historically high household debt level.

The general government balance was estimated at -12.6% in 2021 by the IMF, as Norway’s public finances rely heavily on oil and gas output. The projections envisage a substantial decrease in the oil-adjusted fiscal deficit in 2022, with a forecast of -10.7% (followed by -10% in 2023). Norway's government gross debt did not expand substantially in the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis unlike in the rest of Europe, despite public monetary support and a comprehensive loan programme to the banks. The debt-to-GDP ratio stood at 42.7% in 2021 and is expected to follow a downward trend over the forecast horizon (42.4% and 41.8% in 2022 and 2023, respectively). The value of Norway's Sovereign Wealth Fund remains the world’s largest, being valued at over USD 1.4 trillion at the end of 2021. The Norwegian fund invests in more than 9,100 companies worldwide. Inflation was on an upward trend in 2021 (+2.6% from 1.3% one year earlier), triggering Norges Bank’s Executive Board decision to raise the key policy rate from the historic low of 0.0% to 0.25%. The IMF expects inflation to stabilize around 2% over the forecast period.

Norway is a rich country, with one of the highest GDP per capita in the world (estimated at USD 69,171 PPP in 2021 by the IMF). The nation also scores at the top of the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Index ranking. Unemployment grew only slightly in 2021 (at 4.3%), already exceeding pre-pandemic levels. In line with the economic recovery, employment is set to continue increasing, while the rate of unemployment should fall further to 4% this year and 3.9% in 2023 (IMF).

Main Indicators 202020212022 (e)2023 (e)2024 (e)
GDP (billions USD) 362.20482.18504.70486.37495.14
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) -0.73.9e3.62.62.2
GDP per Capita (USD) 6789e928889
General Government Balance (in % of GDP) -12.3-10.1-8.6-8.1-8.2
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 46.843.440.339.539.2
Inflation Rate (%)
Unemployment Rate (% of the Labour Force)
Current Account (billions USD) 4.0372.1297.9470.7655.82
Current Account (in % of GDP)

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database , October 2021

Note: (e) Estimated Data

Country Risk

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Main Sectors of Industry

Agriculture accounts for 1.9% of GDP and employs 2% of the workforce (World bank, latest data available). Fishing is an important activity as Norway is the world's second-biggest seafood exporter after China. Agricultural subsidies are very significant. The country counts 38,713 agricultural holdings (Statistics Norway) and is more than self-sufficient in animal products, livestock being one of the major agricultural products. However, Norway remains dependent on imports for cereal crops (soybeans, wheat, rapeseed and bananas). About 39% of Norway’s total land area is covered by forests, 12.6 million ha in total.

Industry employs 19.4% of the workforce and represents 25.9% of GDP. Norway’s economy depends on its natural resources and energy sources (oil, gas, hydraulic energy, forests and minerals). Oil rents, which have once dominated the GDP, now provide less than 4% of GDP, well below its peak level in 2000. Manufacturing alone accounts for 6.6% of GDP. Shipbuilding, metals, wood pulp and paper, the chemical industry, machinery and electrical equipment make up Norway’s main manufacturing industries. Norway also has one of the largest and most modern fleets in the world.

The Norwegian service sector is highly developed; it employs over three-quarters of the population (78.5%) and accounts for 60.4% of GDP, a share that has been increasing in recent years. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), travel and tourism in Norway generated, directly and indirectly, roughly 4.6% of GDP in 2020 (latest data available). The Norwegian banking sector is comprised of 134 banks, of which 118 local banks and 16 branches of foreign banks. The market share of the subsidiaries and branches of foreign banks were 24% and 38% in the retail and domestic corporate market, respectively (European Banking Federation, latest data available).

Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 2.0 19.4 78.5
Value Added (in % of GDP) 1.6 35.5 52.5
Value Added (Annual % Change) 6.7 2.2 4.5

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.

Monetary Indicators 20162017201820192020
Norwegian Krone (NOK) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 USD 8.408.278.138.809.42

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.



Foreign Trade

Norway has a very open economy, trade representing 65.4% of GDP (World Bank, latest data available). Traditionally, the country exports energy-intensive products and imports high-technology items. The country is among the top 20 exporters of oil and the second-largest natural gas and seafood exporter in the world. Overall, Norway ranks among the 25 biggest global exporters (excluding inter-EU trade). Petroleum oils and gases represent around half of the total exports. Seafood is also among the most exported products (7.6%). Imports are led by motor cars (7%), refined petroleum and broadcasting equipment.

The country's main trade partners are generally member states of the European Union. In 2020, however, the United Kingdom was the top destination of Norwegian exports (17.4%), followed by Germany (11.7%), the Netherlands (9.9%), Sweden (9.9%) and China (7.8%), which was the main supplier of goods and services in Norway (12.1%), followed by Germany (11.5%), Sweden (10.7%), the United States (6.8%) and the UK (5.4%).

Norway’s trade surplus is considerable. However, it is closely linked to global oil and gas prices. Following the global Covid-19-induced crisis and the drop in energy prices, total exports decreased to USD 84.4 billion in 2020 (-7.9%), with imports declining only marginally (USD 80.4 billion, -5.7%). Services exports stood at USD 35.4 billion, against USD 35.8 billion of imports. As a result, the overall trade balance was negative in 2020 for the first time in the last thirty years (-0.4% of GDP – World Bank). According to preliminary data from Statistics Norway, in the first eleven months of 2021 exports totalled NOK 1,196 million (+70% y-o-y), whereas imports stood at NOK 770 million (+9.9% y-o-y).

Foreign Trade Values 20172018201920202021
Imports of Goods (million USD) 81,24986,60085,31980,44797,764
Exports of Goods (million USD) 101,054121,791102,79984,459160,106
Imports of Services (million USD) 49,94452,07652,41736,86441,362
Exports of Services (million USD) 40,84543,29643,28835,41440,301

Source: World Trade Organisation (WTO) ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Indicators 20172018201920202021
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP)
Trade Balance (million USD) 23,20333,81615,789-13159,690
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) 13,91025,0656,069-2,91458,629
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change)
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 1.7-1.21.1-1.24.7
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 32.832.234.833.129.3
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 36.338.036.332.241.6

Source: World Bank ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Forecasts 20222023 (e)2024 (e)2025 (e)2026 (e)
Volume of exports of goods and services (Annual % change)
Volume of imports of goods and services (Annual % change)

Source: IMF, World Economic Outlook ; Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

International Economic Cooperation
Norway is a member of the following international economic organisations:  IMF, European Union, ICC, Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC), WTO, OECD, among others. For the full list of economic and other international organisations in which participates Norway click here. International organisation membership of Norway is also outlined here.
Free Trade Agreements
The up-to-date list of Free Trade Agreements signed by Norway can be consulted here.

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
United Kingdom 20.5%
Germany 19.1%
Netherlands 7.9%
Sweden 7.8%
France 7.2%
See More Countries 37.4%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
China 13.2%
Sweden 11.3%
Germany 11.1%
United States 6.3%
United Kingdom 4.6%
See More Countries 53.5%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data



Political Outline

Current Political Leaders
King: Harald V (since 17 January 1991) - hereditary
Prime Minister: Jonas Gahr STORE (since 14 October 2021) – Labour Party
Next Election Dates
Parliamentary: September 2025
Current Political Context
Parliamentary elections were held in September 2021: the former government of Conservative Party Prime Minister Erna Solberg could not secure a majority, ending their eight-year rule. In turn, the Labour Party led by Jonas Gahr Støre managed to form a minority coalition government with the Centre Party. The third potential government partner – the Socialist Left Party – decided not to join the coalition over disagreements related to environmental policy (as oil and gas exploration should continue at both old and new oil fields); however, it will support newly nominated Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre on a case-by-case basis.
Main Political Parties
Coalition governments comprising several parties are typical in Norway. Currently, nine parties are represented in the parliament. The Labour Party and the Conservative Party are the most represented.

- Norwegian Labour Party (DNA): centre-left
- Conservative Party (Høyre): centre-right
- Centre Party (SP): centrist
- Progress Party (FrP): right-wing party
- Socialist Left Party (SV): left-wing
- Red Party (Rødt): left to far-left, Marxist
- Liberal Party (Venstre): centre-right, conservative-liberal
- Green Party: centre-left green political party
- Christian Democratic Party (KrF): centre
Executive Power
The constitution grants executive powers to the King (the head of state), but these are exercised by the cabinet. The King serves a ceremonial role with some reserve powers. After elections, the majority leader is usually appointed Prime Minister (the head of the cabinet) by the monarch with the approval of the parliament.
Legislative Power
The Storting is the legislative body of Norway. The parliament is unicameral and consists of 169 representatives. Members are elected for four-year terms according to a system of proportional representation. The Storting cannot be dissolved before serving its full four-year term.


COVID-19 Country Response

COVID-19 epidemic evolution

To find out about the latest status of the COVID-19 pandemic evolution and the most up-to-date statistics on the COVID-19 disease in Norway, please consult the official data on the Norwegian Institute of Public Health website. The NIPH also provides a daily epidemiological update.
For the international outlook you can consult the latest situation reports published by the World Health Organisation as well as the global daily statistics on the coronavirus pandemic evolution including data on confirmed cases and deaths by country.

Sanitary measures

To find out about the latest public health situation in Norway and the current sanitary measures in vigour, please consult the website of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. The national long-term strategy and the plan for handling the COVID-19 pandemic can be consulted on the portal of the Norwegian government.

Travel restrictions

The COVID-19 situation, including the spread of new variants, evolves rapidly and differs from country to country. All travelers need to pay close attention to the conditions at their destination before traveling. Regularly updated information for all countries with regards to Covid-19 related travel restrictions in place including entry regulations, flight bans, test requirements and quarantine is available on TravelDoc Infopage.
It is also highly recommended to consult COVID-19 Travel Regulations Map provided and updated on the daily basis by IATA.
The US government website of Centers of Disease Control and Prevention provides COVID-19 Travel Recommendations by Destination.
The UK Foreign travel advice also provides travelling abroad advice for all countries, including the latest information on coronavirus, safety and security, entry requirements and travel warnings.

Import & export restrictions

For the up-to-date information on all the measures applicable to movement of goods during the period of sanitary emergency due to the COVID-19 outbreak (including eventual restrictions on imports and exports, if applicable), please consult the website of the Norwegian customs authority Toll.
For a general overview of trade restrictions due to COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the section dedicated to Norway on the
International Trade Centre's COVID-19 Temporary Trade Measures webpage.

Economic recovery plan

For the information on the economic recovery scheme put in place by the Norwegian government to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the national economy, please visit the dedicated page on the web portal of the Norwegian government. Further details are available on KPMG's website.
For the general overview of the key economic policy responses to the COVID-19 outbreak (fiscal, monetary and macroeconomic) taken by the Norwegian government to limit the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the section dedicated to Norway in the
IMF’s Policy Tracker platform.

Support plan for businesses

For the information on the local business support scheme established by the Norwegian government to help small and medium-sized companies to deal with the economic impacts of the COVID-19 epidemic on their activity, please consult the portal of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries.
For a general overview of international SME support policy responses to the COVID-19 outbreak refer to the OECD's SME Covid-19 Policy Responses document.
You can also consult the World Bank's Map of SME-Support Measures in Response to COVID-19.

Support plan for exporters

For the up-to-date information on all the measures applicable to movement of goods during the period of sanitary emergency due to the COVID-19 outbreak (including eventual restrictions on imports and exports, if applicable), please consult the website of the Norwegian customs authority Toll.