Nils Martin Gunneng took office in September and have had some very busy first months.
The new Norwegian ambassador to Brazil, Mr. Nils Martin Gunneng holds a Master’s degree in Political Science from the University of Oslo, and has been a career diplomat since 1994. Mr. Gunneng has served in Norwegian Embassies in Rabat, London and Beijing, and held various positions in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Oslo. From 2014 to 2017, Mr. Gunneng served as Deputy Director General at the Services Department of the ministry.
He is however no stranger to Brazil as his wife, Andrea is a «mineira» from Belo Horizonte. The friendliness of the Brazilian people is something the new ambassador appreciates deeply, and in this interview, he shares his thoughts on Norwegian-Brazilian relations, and also reveals what he likes to do when he is not working.
How have the first months been?
NMG: Busy! It’s a continent-sized country, and Norway is engaged in many regions of the country with everything from business to forest preservation. I’ve tried to visit the important players and have traveled extensively these first months. But there are still important places and people that I haven’t met yet.
What are your main priorities as Norway´s ambassador to Brazil?
NMG: The Norwegian Government’s Brazil strategy highlights four aspects: Trade and investments, Climate change cooperation, Science cooperation and International cooperation within the UN system and other global organizations. These priorities guide me – when I can choose how to use my time.
What are the main challenges?
NMG: The main challenge for bilateral trade and Norwegian investments in Brazil are related to regulatory issues. Another issue is the general skepticism that seems to exist in Brazil towards foreign investments. In order to approach this skepticism, I think we need to share our experiences about how Norwegian business became globally competitive through gradually opening up.
Oil, gas and maritime industries are important for the relations between Norway and Brazil. Where do Norwegian-Brazilian relations in these sectors go from here?
NMG: Statoil is investing heavily in new areas of exploration offshore in Brazil. As activities starts to materialize in the Santos basin, this will eventually benefit the supply industry as well, who is struggling at present. So the future for Norwegian-Brazilian cooperation in this field looks bright.
Will Norwegian support to the Amazon Fund change in character in the future?
NMG: Our commitment to the Amazon Fund is 100%. Brazil has already made important contributions to fight climate change through the impressive reduction of the deforestation in the Amazon forest. Norwegian payments to the Fund depends on the annual deforestation results. Last year the deforestation increased, and so the payments will be less than before. It seems the deforestation rates for this year will be better again, and hence the payments next year should be bigger. This is how the Brazilians designed the Fund.
What do you do when you are not at work?
NMG: My piano arrived a couple of weeks ago. When I get it tuned, it’s my favorite pastime. I’m not a very good pianist, but I enjoy playing jazz. Otherwise Andrea and I enjoy hiking and traveling.
By Runa Hestmann, NBCC journalist