Norway and Myanmar have close bilateral connections. The two countries established diplomatic connections in 1956. The Norwegian Embassy in Yangon was established in October 2013.
Myanmar is one out of four partner countries for Norwegian development aid to Asia. Globally it is one out of ten partner countries for long-term development. Bilateral Norwegian development aid to Myanmar reached NOK 243 million in 2018.
At the center of activities in bilateral development cooperation are democratization, good governance, human rights and civil society, peace and reconciliation, humanitarian aid and natural resource management. Norway focuses on Myanmar in its action plan for the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. Myanmar also receives Norwegian support through multilateral channels such as UN organizations and development banks.
Several Norwegian NGOs are active in Myanmar, such as Norwegian Refugee Council, Norwegian People’s Aid, Save the Children, Norwegian Church Aid, Care Norway, DIGNI, ADRA, Strømme Foundation and Norwegian Red Cross.
Norway is working to strengthen Myanmar’s management of its own natural resources and implement international conventions through cooperation with Myanmar’s Department of Energy and Myanmar’s Ministry of Environment. The programs Oil for Development and Fish for Development are also an important part of this work.
The Embassy actively supports the efforts of Norwegian businesses in the fields of oil/gas, renewable energy, telecommunications, aquaculture, hydropower plants and LNG to succeed in Myanmar. Telenor, Jotun, SN Power and Yara are the most predominant Norwegian companies in Myanmar.
Trade between Norway and Myanmar is limited, but increasing. Trade in goods reached NOK 345 million in 2018. Imports of goods from Myanmar to Norway, mainly clothing and footwear, were NOK 300 million in 2018. Exports of goods to from Norway to Myanmar, primarily chemical products and fish, amounted to NOK 45 million. Trade in services amounted to NOK 295 million in 2017, of which Norwegian service exports amounted to NOK 208 million.
Over the last decade there have been a significant number of high-level visits between Norway and Myanmar. Erik Solheim, Norway’s Minister of Development from 2005-2012, visited Myanmar in January 2009, making him the first Norwegian minister to visit the country. In 2012 former Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg visited Myanmar, and the same year Aung San Suu Kyi came to Norway to hold her Nobel lecture, 21 years after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. Myanmar’s former president U Thein Sein visited Norway in February 2013. In December 2014, TM King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway visited Myanmar, along with former Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende and a large business delegation. Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Søreide Eriksen visited Myanmar in 2017, and in March 2019, Norwegian Minister of Development Dag-Inge Ulstein visited the country.
In 2019 Norway and Myanmar signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that defines the overall framework and priorities for the cooperation between the two countries. This memorandum builds upon cooperation formalized in the previous 2014-2019 MoU. The overarching goals of the development cooperation is to contribute to peace and reconciliation and an enabling environment for sustainable social and economic development.
The development cooperation focuses on two main areas: (i) Peace, democratization and reform processes and (ii) sustainable management of natural resources, energy and environment/climate change.
Peace, democratization and reform processes
Norway is committed to supporting the on-going democratic transition in Myanmar and intends to continue its long-standing support to the peace process and the economic reform processes. Norway supports women’s empowerment in all layers of society – in particular to increase women voices and participation in the peace process. Norway further promotes human rights, interreligious dialog and good government principles such as transparency and freedom of speech.
Sustainable management of natural resources, energy and environment/climate change
Norway is currently supporting Myanmar authorities in ensuring sustainable environment management. This include conservation of protected areas and biodiversity, improving the handling of industrial waste and strengthening of water management. Norway also supports Myanmar authorities in getting responsible management of aquaculture, hydropower and petroleum resources.