The Fridtjof Nansen Institute
Public participation 

About the Project

The project, which was initiated and funded by the Norwegian Ministry of the Environment, has been carried out by Ole Kristian Fauchald of the Fridtjof Nansen Institute, and Haakon Vennemo of Vista Analysis. Through the project we have had close dialogue with a team at Beijing Normal University headed by Hu Tao and Mao Xianqiang.

This is the first bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) negotiated by Norway on a bilateral basis since 1992. Most such agreements have been negotiated through EFTA. So far, there has been no procedure for environmental assessment of bilateral FTAs in EFTA.

The Sino-Norwegian FTA can be classified as a 'broad trade agreement', i.e. an agreement that often includes provisions on market access, domestic regulation, services, investment, and intellectual property. In addition to clauses aiming at ensuring the trade partners' ability to protect the environment, many of these agreements also contain references to environmental co-operation, either in the trade agreement itself or in a separate agreement.

The project has been divided into an inception phase and an analytical phase. The inception phase defined the topics and methods for carrying out the analytical study. The analytical phase assessed the likely impacts of the FTA for environmental policies, regulations and the physical environment.

Miljøkonsekvensutredning av handelsavtale mellom Norge og KinaInception phase

The inception phase of the project took place from October 2010 to March 2011. The preliminary results, defining the topics and methods for carrying out the analytical phase of the project, were presented as an intermediary report in February, soliciting comments. The preliminary report was also discussed at a public hearing on 4 March 2011. Input from the hearing process was subsequently incorporated, and a final report from the inception phase was published 14 April 2011.

The report contains the following core elements:

1. The modalities of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) - on the basis of recommendations of international institutions and previous experiences with EIA, as well as the characteristics of the Sino-Norwegian FTA negotiations, it will define the modalities of the EIA project.

2. Screening - identification of sectors considered to be of interest from an EIA perspective. The screening will take into account both the potential for mitigating negative effects and the potential for enhancing positive effects.

3. Scoping - selection of those sectors that seem to be of most interest, selection of issues of interest and consideration of system boundaries, as well as development of reference scenario or situation.

4. A definition of the assessment methodologies to be used.

Analytical phase

The analytical phase assessed the likely impacts of the FTA for environmental policies, regulations and the physical environment. The analysis covered the main parts of the FTA: Trade in goods, trade in services and investments, and was limited to those parts of the FTA that were assumed to have the greatest effects. The analysis is based on scenarios setting out possible results of the negotiations. These scenarios build on existing obligations in the WTO seen in conjunction with the public documents that the negotiations are based upon. The authors have only had access to information concerning the negotiations that is available to the public.

The Final Report contains the following core elements:

1. The details of a baseline scenario.

2. Two scenarios based on possible outcomes of the negotiations - a free trade scenario and a green trade scenario.

3. Screening and scoping in light of input from consultations with public authorities, non-governmental organizations and the team of Chinese researchers.

4. Five case studies that focus on effects of the FTA on trade and investment between Norway and China, and the resulting environmental consequences.

5. Five regulatory studies that focus on effects of the FTA for environmental rules and policy.

Some assessment processes set up a framework for monitoring and follow up of issues identified as relevant for such purposes in the assessment - this is not part of the mandate for this assessment.

Fridtjof Nansen Institute

Vista Analyse

Fridtjof Nansen Institute
P.O. Box 326, 1326 Lysaker, Norway. Tel: (+47) 67111900 / E-mail: post (