By TOM CLARKE
Excellent opportunities exist for New Zealand to trade with the world's second largest oil-producing country, Norway, says Reidar Sveaas, director of P&O Maritime Ltd.
Mr Sveaas has just been appointed honorary consul to Auckland by King Harald V of Norway.
He says New Zealand could be selling a wide range of goods to Norwegians - from meat and wool to knitwear and luxury yachts.
Until 40 years ago - when oil was discovered - Norway was quite a poor country, he says.
"Norway is now the second biggest oilproducing country in the world after Saudi Arabia and it's amongst the 10 richest countries in the world.
"In Norway today, people have very high consumption and they are very big spenders," he says.
They are interested in luxury products "such as yachts and the like" and are keen travellers. Despite the distance and the scenic similarities between the two countries, New Zealand could be sold to Norway as a tourist destination, he says.
New Zealand - with its more developed tourism and fishing industries - also has expertise it could turn to its advantage, while New Zealand could benefit from Norway's expertise, knowledge and technology in oil exploration.
Mr Sveaas says relationships between Norway and New Zealand have never been close because of the distance between them.
A few thousand Norwegians emigrated here in the 1870s, but since then there have only been a few hundred immigrants in total.
But with modern communications and transport, he says, closer relationships could be developed.
"I will be very keen to be a builder of the bridge between the two countries," he says.
"I'm very keen to do something about trade between the two and I plan to market New Zealand in Norway, and - of course - to market Norway in New Zealand."
Mr Sveaas is a Norwegian citizen who has had 30 years in the shipping industry in Norway, Singapore and New Zealand. He came to New Zealand from Singapore three-and-a-half years ago with his wife and four sons, to take up his present position with P&O Maritime.
He replaces Kerry Hoggard who stepped down as honorary consul recently.