Oil, protectionism mar Norway’s foreign aid status

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Norway ranks third-highest in the world in support for developing countries and fighting poverty, but its oil production and protectionist trade barriers keep the country from being tops.

Both Denmark and Sweden scored higher than Norway in helping the world’s poor, according to the annual “Commitment to Development Index” prepared by the Center for Global Development. All three Scandinavian countries claim the top spots, but Norway scored lowest among them, even though it’s the wealthiest of the three.

The wealth generated by its oil and gas production enables more aid but also gave Norway the next-worst environmental ranking of all countries in the index, after Canada. And the high tariffs placed on imports, to protect Norwegian agriculture, were said to hinder trade with poor countries that need market access, by keeping their products out of the Norwegian market.

Norway thus ranked second-lowest within the index’s trade criteria, ahead of only South Korea. “Norway should have a debate about how its trade policies could contribute to development,” Rolf Vestvik of the Norwegian Refugee Council told newspaper Aftenposten.

Norway scored high for its large contributions to foreign aid, its willingness to send soldiers on UN-led peace-keeping missions and its willingness to take in refugees. It also scored much higher than large countries like the US, Japan and Great Britain for its aid efforts. Its trade barriers, however, should be lowered, according to the report, something the country’s new conservative government aims to achieve.

newsinenglish.no staff