Statistics Norway has studied the characteristics of Norwegian companies engaging in international trade in services. Companies are classified according to number of employees, ownership of the company, and the type of economic activity in which the company engages. These figures are a part of the larger European statistics on Services Trade by Enterprise Characteristics (STEC) ( which until now was considered as experimental statistics.

The largest companies report the most trade

In 2019, Norway exported services worth NOK 379 billion and imported services worth NOK 474 billion. Large companies, defined here as having at least 250 employees, represent the greatest share of this trade. They stood for 45.1 per cent of exported services and 34.0 per cent of imported services in 2019.

Among large companies, those in the industrial sector exported the most. In 2019 the manufacturing industry exported services worth NOK 27 billion, of which NOK 20 billion were exported by large companies. The same year, large companies in the industrial sector stood for 5.3 per cent of the total Norwegian exports of services.

Figure 1. Service exports by number of employees, share of total services exports. 2019

Small companies' role are significant in service trade

Norwegian companies with 0-9 employees exported services for a total of NOK 54 billion in 2019, 14.1 per cent of the total service exports. This makes Norway one of the countries in the survey that has the largest share of exports by the smallest category of companies, behind only Estonia. In total, Norwegian companies with fewer than 10 employees accounted for 15.4 per cent of imported services in 2019.

In certain industries, however, the greatest trade in services was reported by companies with fewer than 10 employees. One such is the transport sector, where in 2019 Companies with less than 10 employees. represented 35.8 per cent of exports and 36.5 per cent of imports.

Figure 2. Service imports by number of employees, share of total service imports, 2019

Norwegian-controlled companies exported most

Norwegian-controlled companies stood for 54 per cent of all service exports in 2019. Norwegian-controlled companies are defined here as companies where less than 50 per cent of the company is controlled by foreign owners. Exports by foreign-controlled companies made up approximately 44 per cent of the total service exports. These are here defined as companies where at least 50 per cent of the company belongs to foreign owners.  

Foreign-controlled companies accounted for 38.6 per cent of Norwegian service imports, while Norwegian-controlled companies stood for 36.2 per cent. Some types of economic activity in certain industries cannot be linked to a company and are therefore assigned as uncategorised. An example of this is the travel industry. These quantities are partially estimated values and are based on numbers from the foreign accounts. 23.4 per cent of the total imports, found under the “non-attributed size” label, are associated with the travel services and 1.8 per cent with financial services.

Statistics on Services Trade by Enterprise Characteristics (STEC) provide an insight into what characterise the companies that engage in international services trade. External trade in services data is broken down by enterprise size class, enterprise ownership and type of economic activity.

The statistics published here are based on data from the Norwegian International Accounts and statistics on the External Trade of Services (ETS), linked to data from the Norwegian Business and Enterprise Register (VoF) and other surveys from Statistics Norway. This makes it possible to examine the traits that characterize the companies that engage in external trade of services – i.e. the number of employees in a company, what industry the company belongs to, and if the companies are domestic or foreign controlled.

These results are reported to Eurostat, the EU’s statistical office, which publishes data for all EU and EFTA countries. The numbers used in this article are from 2019. Presently, STEC statistics are considered experimental. As only 15 European countries have delivered data to Eurostat for the period 2016-2022, Eurostat underlines that “STEC statistics have not yet reached full maturity in terms of harmonisation, coverage and methodology”. Starting with 2022 data, Statistics Norway is committed to deliver annual data to Eurostat with an 18-month delay (T+18).

Statistics on Services Trade by Enterprise Characteristics are not directly comparable to the statistics on External Trade in Services published by Statistics Norway. This is because a portion of the data in the Norwegian International Accounts lacks identifying information. This in turn makes it impossible to connect the data to the VoF.

Trade flows regarding travel services and financial services cannot be allocated to individual enterprises. Statistics Norway’s Travel Survey (Reiselivsundersøkelsen) is the source of data on the trade of services within the travel industry, and it cannot be directly linked to Norwegian Business and Enterprise Register. Certain data for financial services categories are estimated values and are not compiled through the survey. As such, they cannot be directly linked to the Norwegian Business and Enterprise Register (VoF) either.