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Norway’s business environment, while susceptible to global economic cycles, enjoys a level of relative stability. The Norwegian economy is a successful example of welfare capitalism, featuring a combination of free market activity and large state ownership in key sectors like oil and gas, hydroelectric energy, aluminum production, banking and telecommunications. Rich in natural resources – petroleum, fish, forests, minerals and hydropower – oil and gas exports alone, account for as much as 1/5 of government revenue. In anticipation of eventual declines in oil and gas production, Norway saves state revenue from the petroleum sector in the world’s second largest sovereign wealth fund (valued at over $500 billion in 2011). It uses returns from the fund, in part, to help finance public expenses. On stable financial footing, thanks in large part to its rich natural resource base, Norwegians opted to stay out of the EU in a 1994 referendum. Norway, nonetheless, does participates in the European Union’s single market via the European Economic Area agreement (excluding a few sectors like oil, agriculture and fishing).

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