Minot officials and business leaders are joining Gov. Jack Dalrymple on a trade mission to Norway.
The delegation leaves today with representatives of the North Dakota Trade Office and will return Thursday. During the trip, the governor and province leaders in Telemark, Norway, plan to sign a memorandum of understanding to establish a sister-state relationship. The agreement will enhance mutual understanding and bilateral relations between the regions with particular focus on economic development through trade, culture and education.
Minot officials also will be meeting with their counterparts in Minot's sister city, Skien, to talk about trade ventures.
"Norwegian heritage has always been an important part of North Dakota, and our state is committed to enhancing this relationship through mutually beneficial trade opportunities," Dalrymple said. "This trip is part of our ongoing effort to bring North Dakota products to more and more buyers in high-demand markets around the world."
The Nordic region is considered worldwide to be a test market for new products/technology and an easy-to-enter export market for new and new-to-export companies, according to the N.D. Trade Office. U.S. exports to Norway support roughly 20,000 U.S. jobs. Norway is the seventh largest exporter of crude oil and the third largest exporter of natural gas in the world.
During the trade mission, Dalrymple will meet with Ole Borten Moe, Norway's minister of Petroleum & Energy, and Statoil president and chief executive officer Helge Lund to learn more about how the Scandinavian country, with its extensive oil and natural gas reserves, manages the challenges created by new oil discoveries.
The trade delegation includes representatives from Intelligent Insites, United Pulse Trading, Inc./AGT Foods, University of North Dakota, UND Center for Innovation and Norsk Hostfest, as well as the City of Minot and the Minot Area Development Corp.
The companies will meet with potential buyers and partners from throughout Norway. The N.D. Trade Office and the U.S. Commercial Service have been performing market research to identify potential buyers and clients and to develop business meeting schedules well in advance of the trade delegation's departure.
"United Pulse is excited to visit Norway to explore export opportunities for pulse-based food ingredients from our new facility in Minot," said Eric Bartsch, general manager of United Pulse Trading Inc.
Officials from UND and the UND Center for Innovation will meet with Norwegian universities to further discuss student and faculty exchange opportunities as well as collaboration opportunities in the fields of medical technology, software systems, cyber security, enhanced oil recovery and environmental technologies.
The delegation also will promote leisure travel to North Dakota and participate in events designed to promote the annual Norsk Hostfest celebration in Minot, other North Dakota attractions and to increase awareness regarding the strong cultural ties between North Dakota and Norway.
"North Dakota has been honoring Norwegian heritage, culture and family for 36 years through the annual Norsk Hostfest festival and has made valuable business contacts through this event. Business and trade collaboration is a natural fit for North Dakota and Norway and will take the relationship to the next level," said Pam Davy, executive director of Norsk Hostfest.
The N.D. Trade Office is a member-based organization that provides education, research, advocacy, organization and leadership so that North Dakota companies can develop and expand their export business. According to U.S. Department of Commerce statistics, North Dakota's merchandise exports have grown over 325 percent since 2004, from $1 to $4.3 billion in 2012.