2022 turned out to be an exceptional year for Norwegian foreign trade. Energy prices had substantial impact on Norwegian exports. At the same time higher inflation drove up both imports and exports in nominal terms. Export prices grew more that import prices. Higher interest rate levels for many currencies resulted in higher flows, affecting the balance of income and current transfers.

Soaring trade balance surplus

The balance of trade in goods and services, or the trade balance, showed a surplus of NOK 1,579 billion in 2022, up from NOK 544 billion¹ the previous year. The increase in the surplus on the trade balance was 190 per cent and the surplus was of the same order of magnitude as total Norwegian imports. The growth is particularly driven by increased energy prices, which can be linked to the fact that Russia's gas exports to Europe were throttled through 2022. The price increase for natural gas was the most important contributor to higher export revenues. The surplus on the trade balance reached its highest level in the third quarter with a quarterly surplus of NOK 554 billion. In December, the surplus was reduced to NOK 325 billion.

Increased price growth in Norway and among Norway's trading partners contributed to both higher nominal imports and exports. Overall price growth was higher for exports than for imports, which led to a strengthened terms of trade vis-a-vis abroad and a larger surplus on the trade balance. Norwegian kroner weakened by four per cent through 2022 as measured by the import-weighted exchange rate index, which helped to raise the value of imports measured in Norwegian kroner.

Goods other than petroleum exports and exports of ships contributed to increased export values. Important contributions came from refined oil products and chemicals and chemical and mineral products. The increase from the same period last year was NOK 30 billion, which corresponds to growth of 21 per cent. Service exports increased correspondingly with growth of 22 per cent. The export of gross freight increased by NOK 10 billion, which reflects increased activity in shipping. The development in service exports has been driven up by increased travel activities. Exports of aviation and other transport services and travel show an increase in 2022. Exports of travel are expenses incurred by foreigners in Norway.

In total, Norway exported goods and services worth NOK 3,100 billion in 2022. This is an increase of NOK 1,343 billion compared to the previous year, an increase of 76 per cent for Norwegian exports.

In comparison, Norway imported goods and services worth NOK 1,521 billion in 2022. The increase represents annual growth of 25 per cent. The import of goods had an annual growth of 18 per cent, while the import of services increased by 45 per cent compared to the same period the previous year.

Increased travel activity has contributed significantly to import growth. This includes expenses that Norwegians incur when traveling abroad, both private trips and work trips. Imports of travel  increased by NOK 100 billion, or 282 per cent compared to 2021. Imports of aviation services increased correspondingly by 159 per cent. In line with the fact that maritime activity has increased, and due to price increases, maritime operating expenses abroad contributed to increased imports. Annual growth was 27 per cent.

For more information about exports and imports, including price and volume considerations and seasonal adjustments, please see the quarterly national accounts.

¹ Corrected from million to billion 1 March 2023 at 08.25.

Stronger balance of income and current transfers

The interest and current transfers balance showed a surplus of NOK 112 billion in 2022, NOK 83 billion higher than in 2021. The surplus on the income and current transfers amounted to 4 per cent of Mainland Norway's GDP in 2022.

On the income side, it is particularly the interest income items that show growth compared to the same period last year, as interest rates increase internationally. The item interest income increased by NOK 96 billion compared to 2021.

Changes on the expenditure side are also driven by interest expenses. Interest expenses increased by NOK 48 billion last year. Dividend payments abroad have, however, fallen compared to last year. Norway received dividend income of NOK 319 billion from abroad, and paid NOK 130 billion in dividends abroad in 2022.

Figure 1. The current account
Figure 1. The current account

The figure shows (1) the Balance of goods and services, (2) the Balance of income and current transfers and (3) the current account balance (1+2).

The financial account

The development in Norway’s net foreign assets is illustrated in figure below. After a significant drop in the first half of 2022 the net foreign assets increased and ended up at the same level as the end of 2021.

The main features in the financial account are summarized in the points below:

  • Net lending for the year 2022 amounted to NOK 1,433 billion, which is the highest ever. The peak level was recorded in the third quarter of the year
  • Net losses on financial assets and liabilities (other changes) amounted to the same level as net lending in 2022
  • Thus, net foreign assets ended up at the same level as at the end of 2021 and had a value of NOK 11,659 billion

Figure 2. Integrated IIP statement
Figure 2. Development in Norway's net foreign assets

The figure shows the development in Norway's net foreign assets, net lending and net other changes.

Record High Net Lending

Net lending was historically high in all quarters of the year 2022, with an absolute peak in the third quarter. Norway’s’ investment activities abroad were high and with the Norwegian Pension Fund Global in the lead, a lot of investment was made abroad, especially in shares and other securities.

Price loss in the Securities Market

Other changes due to price change losses in debt securities and exchange rates had, in isolation, a huge negative effect on Norway’s net foreign assets in 2022. Especially in the beginning of the year where the effect of falling prices in the securities market and negative exchange rate revaluations, because of the strengthening of NOK, drew in the same direction. Market prices kept on falling throughout the year, especially in the second quarter, but recovered somewhat in the last quarter of the year. Det total effect of market price loss for the year was still significant but was somewhat offset by the positive exchange rate revaluations for the year altogether.

The figures in the foreign accounts are revised because of updated source data. Compared to the previous publication, revisions have led to exports being adjusted upwards and imports being adjusted downwards for the first three quarters. The revisions are partly linked to sources being updated when preparing annual figures. These revisions have contributed to a higher surplus on the trade balance for the year.


The Financial Account is revised back to the first quarter of 2021.