Norway is one of the world’s richest countries and has an important stake in promoting a liberal environment for foreign trade. Metals, pulp and paper products, chemicals, shipbuilding and fishing are its most significant industries. As a major shipping nation with a high dependence on international trade, Norway is basically an exporter of raw materials and semi-processed goods. However, it was Norway’s emergence as a major oil – and gas producer in the mid-70s that transformed the economy. Large sums of investment capital poured into the offshore oilsector, leading to greater increases in Norwegian production costs and wages than in the rest of Western Europe up until the mid-80s. The influx of oil revenue also allowed Norway to expand its already extensive social welfare system.