Top diplomatic presence at NICCI meeting to promote Norwegian business in India

“We need to hear from you – to know what to do for you” This was the clear message from Mr. Eivind Homme, Norwegian ambassador to India.

That obviously sounded like good music in the ears of the audience; the members of the “Norway India Chamber of Commerce and Industry”. The member companies represents most business sectors, all with a common goal: increased Indo-Norwegian business.

 

 

I was really looking forward to attend NICCIs breakfast meeting Wednesday morning, and it turned out well worth the couple of hours spent. 8AM is a little early for mingling, but if the Ambassadors can – I can.

 

Charmed by India

The Norwegian ambassador to India started his passionate session by painting a wonderful picture of India. Beyond doubt is he already seduced by the charm if his new home base since 2012. Mr. Homme walked us trough both the  great – but also the not so great sides of the land of contrasts: India.

The clear message to Norwegian companies was that India has enormous opportunities in store – for the one with patience, ability to understand and adjust to the Indian scenario. He emphasized the democracy (though it’s still some room for improvement) and the free press as plus point for India.

 

Mr. Homme made clear that “Promoting Norwegian business in India – is his Embassy’s first priority”.

He invited to utilize the assistance of both himself and his team at the Norwegian Embassy in India. As both door openers and problem solvers.

We have heard it before, but it can’t be repeated to often: – India cannot be seen as ONE. Not as one country. Not as one people. Even an individual business sector can surprise with its diversity. Homme was eagerly describing the extreme variations to expect.

 

Telenor

Mr. Homme mentioned Telenor as an example of how India can play tricks on even the largest corporations. It looked bad for a while, but as we know – the situation eventually got under control.

 

The Norwegian way doesn’t work in India

The ambassador was clear about another thing: “It’s not possible to implement a typical Norwegian management model in India”

I agree to that. I have done my fair share of experimenting on this myself. Going too flat on the business hierarchy, isn’t a good idea in India. My fellow Indophile Indiablogger Karsten Eskelund has recently written about the Norwegian management model. A subject of great interests to me, so I have obviously commented on Karsten’s article.

 

Norwegian footprints

Ambassador Homme told his embassy had a strong focus on increasing positive Norwegian footprints and mentioned several projects in the start block across 4 states south in India.

Homme also forecasted an increased focus on corporate social responsibility.

Homme told the “The Norwegian Business Association India” established in January 2013 already have 55 members. Great!

 

India need to rebuild confidence

Ambassador Homme didn’t hide the fact the finance markets are shaky these days, the struggling rupee has hit a record low and a general pessimism is on the rise. Homme stayed optimistic – but forecasted some dark clouds at least until after the Indian elections for parliament in May 2014.

 

Have to wait until after the election…

“It’s a lot of insecurity and waiting in India right now. It seems everyone is postponing  both important and not so important decisions until after the election in May 2014.” said Mr. Homme.

One thing that will not wait until after the Lok Sabha elections, is tearing down the existing- and building a new chancery in Delhi. The work has started and a modern, functional and beautiful new building is on its way.

 

“The Embassy is at your service”

The closing words of the Ambassador this early Wednesday morning was: “The Embassy is at your service”

 

NHO wanted to know progress in the free trade negotiations

When Rina Sunder opened up for questions, Torkel Thoresen from The Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO) – asked about the progress in the ongoing free trade negotiations with India.

Homme had to take use of his well-developed diplomatic skills when answering. He described a situation that for an outsider easily could be misunderstood as stuck. For companies wanting to increase business with India, it was another call for patience. The Ambassador referred to the ongoing negotiations trough EU / EFTA and mentioned cars and wine as examples of pain areas.

Stuck or not, there are enough signs the Indo-Norwegian trade train is running faster and faster, so I assume it’s just a matter of time. I am pretty sure we have to wait until after the election though.

 

Meet the new boss at innovation Norway – India.

At the very same time as Mr. Helge Tryti addressed the NICCI members on Wednesday, the container with his

Helge Tryti
The new Director at Innovation Norway in Delhi, Helge Tryti

furniture was unloaded in Delhi. His duty as Innovation Norway Director in India has started.

Tryti told that though his own India experience is limited so far, he has a strong team of 7 expert India advisors waiting for him at the Innovation Norway office in Delhi. Ready to assist Norwegian companies in a market not necessarily known to be the easiest.

The main services his office has to offer is market advise and research, event facilitation and practical assistance in entering the Indian market or establishing a company in India.

NORADs Indo-Norwegian matchmaking program is one of the instruments he has available in his toolbox.

 

Tryti is already a regular at the NICCI meetings

This was actually the second appearance of Tryti at a NICCI meeting. And that’s even before he has moved in to his Delhi office.

 

Humble approach

After listening to Tryti on two occasions the last months, I have noticed he has taken a very humble approach prior to his India mission. Tryti is a business heavy weightier with authority written all over him, so my guess is he will be less reticent after a few months with hands on India experience.

 

Innovation Norway office in Mumbai

Mr. Tryti also informed he will open an Innovation Norway branch in Mumbai, since it’s a lot of Norway business going on in India’s financial capital.

Tryti said that the for now most important sectors are shipping, oil and gas, energy and environment – but his teams involvement is in no way limited to those.

 

40 + 40 Norwegian companies on their way to India

Helge Tryti closed his brief presentation with some input on the current activity level of Innovation Norway in India “We are actively working with 40 Norwegian companies, and have about the same in pipeline”

 

Even a glimpse of the Indian ambassador

The Indian Ambassador to Norway, Mr. Tyagi was also present at the NICCI meeting. During the mingling after the official program, he was challenged to say a couple of words – and he didn’t mind.

Mr. Tyagi wasn’t any less inviting then his “colleague” in Delhi. No doubt the Indian Embassy in Oslo is also at our service, to accelerate Indo-Norwegian cooperation.

nicci_meeting
The Indian Ambassador to Norway, making a quick statement after the meeting.

 

 

Thank you

A big thanks to the NICCI board for organizing the event. Thanks to the Confederation of Norwegian enterprise (NHO) for again hosting a NICCI meeting.

No doubt India is facing a setback, and need to rebuild some confidence. However, it’s rare to see so much Indo-Norwegian positivity in one room.

I guess I should look at running out of business cards at a NICCI event as a positive sign, even if it was just before I met the Indian Ambassador.

So, I look forward to the next NICCI meeting. Hopefully we don’t have to wait until after the Indian elections?