Economy - overview: Norway has a stable economy with a vibrant private sector, a large state sector, and an extensive social safety net. Norway opted out of the EU during a referendum in November 1994; nonetheless, as a member of the European Economic Area, it contributes sizably to the EU budget.
The country is richly endowed with natural resources in addition to oil and gas, including hydropower, fish, forests, and minerals. Norway is a leading producer of seafood and the world’s second largest exporter, after China. The government manages the country’s petroleum resources through extensive regulation. The petroleum sector provides about 9% of jobs, 12% of GDP, 13% of the state’s revenue, and 37% of exports, according to official national estimates. Norway is one of the world's leading petroleum exporters, though oil production in 2016 was close to 50% below its peak in 2000; annual gas production, conversely, more than doubled over the same time period. After a continual decline from 2001 to 2013, oil production rose in 2016 for the third year running, due to the higher production of existing oil fields and to new fields coming on stream.
In anticipation of eventual declines in oil and gas production, Norway saves state revenue from petroleum sector activities in the world's largest sovereign wealth fund, valued at almost $900 billion as of early 2017. To help balance the federal budget each year, the government follows a “fiscal rule,” which states that spending of revenues from petroleum and Fund investments shall correspond to the expected real rate of return on the fund, an amount it estimates is sustainable over time. In February 2017 the Government revised the expected rate of return for the Fund downward from 4% to 3%.
After solid GDP growth in 2004-07, the economy slowed in 2008, and contracted in 2009, before returning to modest, positive growth from 2010 to 2016. Lower oil prices in 2015 and 2016 caused growth to slow, increased unemployment, and weakened the Norwegian krone. The latter trend has mitigated the negative impact of lower oil and gas prices by making Norwegian exports cheaper for foreign buyers. The government has expressed willingness to increase public spending from the sovereign wealth fund to help prevent a recession.
Definition: This entry briefly describes the type of economy, including the degree of market orientation, the level of economic development, the most important natural resources, and the unique areas of specialization. It also characterizes major economic events and policy changes in the most recent 12 months and may include a statement about one or two key future macroeconomic trends.
Source: CIA World Factbook - This page was last updated on July 9, 2017