OSLO - Pakistani population in Norway is increasing every year as more people prefer to settle in this country to benefit from a strong economy, officials here said.

Norway is the fourth most important source of remittances for Pakistan in Europe. The value of such remittances from Norway was more than $40 million in 2017-18.

Immigration to Norway from Pakistan started in late 1960s. However, since 1975, immigration has mostly been allowed only in cases of family reunification or family establishment.

Today there are nearly 40,000 persons living in Norway who were either born in Pakistan or both of whose parents were born there. The numbers are increasing rapidly.

Most of the Pakistani diaspora in Norway comes from Kharian and elsewhere in the district of Gujrat. They are well integrated in Norwegian society.

Notably many second-generation Norwegian-Pakistani women attend higher education. Quite a number have attained prominent positions in Norwegian political and professional life.

Pakistan-origin Norwegian lawmaker Dr Mubashar Banaras told The Nation that annual budget for only Oslo city was more than $10 billion - indicating wealth of the country.

“The wages are naturally high. People come here from different countries to settle here. We have a large Pakistani population,” he said.

Norway is the fourth most important source of remittances for Pakistan in Europe

Dr Banaras said the Pakistanis were contributing well in all sectors. He said there was a need to enhance Pak-Norway trade. Trade between Norway and Pakistan is modest, but increasing, and the balance is in favour of Pakistan. In recent years, the trend has been that Norway has imported more from, and exported less to, Pakistan.

Pakistan exports mostly traditional goods, such as textiles, leather-goods and sugar, to Norway. The biggest Norwegian exports to Pakistan are fertilizers, machines, aluminium and iron/steel.

In 2017-18, the value of Norwegian imports from Pakistan was $105 million. The value of total bilateral trade was $128 million, up from $97 million in 2016-17.

Norway and Pakistan have no bilateral trade agreement, so WTO rules apply. However, Norway has accorded Pakistan GSP status (Generalised System of Preferences of the European Union, Norway and Switzerland), meaning that Pakistani goods benefit from a 10-100 percent tariff reduction when imported into Norway.

The EFTA States Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland signed a Joint Declaration on Cooperation with Pakistan in Geneva, Switzerland, on November 12, 2012. As a follow-up, negotiations on a trade agreement are being considered.

Due to the extensive activities of the Norwegian mobile phone operator Telenor in Pakistan, Norway has invested considerable sums in the country. 

In fact, in the period from June 2015 to June 2016, Norway was the source of the largest foreign direct investment in Pakistan, investing a total of $ 173 million. Telenor is by far the largest Norwegian company present in Pakistan. 

Since its establishment in 2005, the company has invested about $3 billion in Pakistan, and currently has some 40 million customers here. Telenor is the second biggest mobile operator in Pakistan. 

In 2016, the Norwegian company Höegh LNG entered into a contract to deliver a Floating Storage and Regasification Unit to a private Liquefied Natural Gas terminal in Port Qasim, to the west of Karachi. 

The partly Norwegian shipping company BW Group has committed to providing Pakistan Gas Port Ltd with an FSRU for 15 years at the public terminal at Port Qasim. Other Norwegian companies are also active in Pakistan.

Cultural Consular in Pakistan embassy at Oslo Khalid Mehmood said the Pakistanis were active across Norway, especially in Oslo.

“Pakistan embassy provides all possible assistance to the Pakistan-origin people here. The overall image of Pakistanis is good. The population is growing,” he added.

The bilateral, diplomatic relations between Norway and Pakistan are warm. Norway recognized Pakistan as a sovereign state in 1947, shortly after its foundation.

For many years, Norway only had an honorary consulate general in Pakistan, located in Karachi. However, in 1976 an embassy was established in Islamabad, headed by an acting ambassador (chargé d’affaires). Norway’s first resident ambassador in Islamabad, Jan Erik Leikvang, arrived in 1995. Today, Norway has honorary consulates in both Karachi and Lahore, in addition to the Embassy in Islamabad.

Over the years, a quite extensive cooperation between the Norwegian and Pakistani police forces has evolved. The Norwegian Embassy in Islamabad has provided technical and advisory assistance, notably to police in Punjab. Norway has also proposed a memorandum of understanding on police and justice cooperation to Pakistan’s authorities.

In recent years, there have been frequent consultations and exchanges of visits between the two countries.