Norway-China Trade up – Despite Nobel Spat

Trade between China and Norway soared to record levels in the first three months of 2011 despite a diplomatic row over the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.

Oslo’s exports to Beijing were up more than 25 percent in the first quarter compared to last year, reaching 4.0 billion kroner ($511 million) according to Norway’s central statistics office.

Imports from China increased 17 percent over the same period to reach 10.6 billion kroner.

“That shows that the Chinese are pragmatic and that the glacial climate is confined to the political level,” Rolv Petter Amdam, a China specialist at the Oslo’s top business school, told the Aftenposten daily.

“I have the impression that trade between Norway and China is pursuing its normal course and that there is very little Nobel effect.”

The decision by the Nobel prize committee, made up of five independent panelists selected by Norway’s parliament, strained ties with China which considers Liu a criminal.

Liu was awarded the prize in absentia at a ceremony in Oslo on December 10 last year.

China responded by demanding an apology, cancelling political dialogue with Oslo and suspending talks on a free trade pact. Norwegian firms reported problems doing business in China.

But experts say China is likely to remain a major customer for raw materials, high technology for maritime use and offshore equipment.

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