French Abroad: What is the role of the Franco-Norwegian Chamber of Commerce? What are its main tasks?
Ludovic Kobe: The mission of the CCFN is to promote economic, commercial and industrial ties between Norway and France, as well as bilateral cooperation between the two countries. It has been an important player in the Franco-Norwegian business community and in bilateral cooperation since its inception in 1919. And this is thanks to its diversified network. We are honored to have excellent cooperation with both embassies, allowing us to build bridges between the private and public sectors in both countries.
How do you assess the current economic situation after two years of the pandemic?
The Norwegian economy is extremely resilient. With the resilience of its public finances, the country has accelerated its energy and digital transition. It should also be said that its economy is also benefiting from rising hydrocarbon prices and is using these revenues to massively invest in diversifying its industry.
Which sectors offer the biggest opportunities for the French in Norway? Is there a specific area of growth, a trend that needs to be highlighted?
The ocean industry and cross-fertilization between the various maritime sectors—transport, aquaculture, offshore energy, and fisheries—are major job-creating sectors. But I would also mention green mobility, technologies related to the problems of the circular economy and decarbonization. In this area, offshore wind power and hydrogen are two booming sectors in Norway. Opportunities for partnerships in technology innovation are numerous. Cybersecurity and innovative and quality products in the food industry are other growing areas to consider when looking for a job.
What is the place of French companies in Norway? Have you noticed any enthusiasm from French leaders towards the country in recent years?
Bilateral relations between our two countries are very dynamic and French companies enjoy a very good image here. Recently, large groups operating outside the energy sector have seen their success grow. Companies such as Alstom and Eiffage have just won major tenders. There are many opportunities in Norway to set up consortiums to innovate through pilot projects. And local and European funding remains, moreover, very affordable for those who want to develop their company.
What are the projects, upcoming projects for you as president of CCFN? And what problems does your organization face?
We expect incremental growth. Thus, we are primarily strengthening our teams and investing in new tools to meet the growing demand. Our teams are also working in the direction of Norway/France, as our Chamber of Commerce and Industry, let me remind you, is bilateral. Therefore, we work closely with the Norwegian team in France.
We are also developing new concepts such as “Business Expeditions”, which combine the commercial side and the study tour aspect of a topic where Norway is ahead of the curve: e.g. electric mobility, industrial decarbonisation, energy transition or even green finance. We are regularly approached by large groups, competitiveness clusters and even schools to organize such a mission within three or four days. The goal is for them to draw inspiration from good Norwegian practices.