Danish PM looks to Singapore for inspiration regarding Denmark’s future economy

On 30 November 2017, the Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen engaged in dialogue with the Danish business community to get inputs on how Denmark can learn from Singapore when preparing the economy for the future.

About 70 Danish businessmen and Danish representatives of companies in Singapore gathered at the Danish Seamen’s Church to participate in dialogue with the Danish Prime Minister and Danish Minister for Employment. Lars Løkke Rasmussen and Troels Lund Poulsen visited Singapore from 29-30 November to acquire inspiration, concerning the employment challenges Denmark faces due to the fourth industrial revolution and disruption.

The dialogue was hosted by the Danish Business Association and the Danish Embassy together with the Danish Seamen’s Church. After a brief welcome from President of DABS Stine Martinussen, the Prime Minister opened the dialogue by underlining that the Danish model of society must adapt to the fourth industrial revolution to stay competitive in the future.

Løkke Rasmussen views Singapore as a leading nation when it comes to preparing for the future job market, and so he wants to hear from the Danish business society how Denmark can get inspiration from Singapore experiences to move in right direction.

Additionally, he expressed how it is important for nations to stay open to the outside world in a time where countries tend to close in on themselves:

“We have achieved our wealth by being open to the world,” Løkke said. However, this is not all that simple: “We need to find the right balance between being open and at the same time not taking everyone in. Denmark is and shall continue to stay open for new talents. At the same time, we need to support people in need. Taking in a lot is naturally problematic but we cannot be selective and chose who we want and who we do not want – our basic laws and human rights do not allow us to be selective. Instead we have to look at joint solutions and future improvements”

It is important to be out in the world, the PM expressed, addressing that it is always a pleasure to meet Danes wherever he visits.

“I have a great deal of respect for the work Danes do in Singapore and all over the globe. You represent Denmark and represent our values.”

Open Mic Dialogue
The dialogue was about how Denmark can learn from Singapore when futureproofing the economy, and the attended business community was eager to share their views with the Prime Minister and the Minister for Employment.

Danish professor at NTU, Jørgen Schlundt, who teaches food safety, explained how the production of many foods in Asia should be better, mentioning fewer resistant bacteria and sustainability. He views Denmark as the absolute top in this matter and thinks it is a shame Denmark does not do more to promote this. He would like to see a cooperation happening between Denmark and Singapore:

“Shouldn’t Denmark try to take the lead for once?” he asked the PM.

Lars Løkke Rasmussen said that we should always look to improve but a lot is being done from Denmark’s side – also in collaboration with the UN. He stated that collaboration is key and that both academia, businesses and governments around the world need to work together to secure sustainability. Inspiration to what further can be done is always welcome, he said.

Afterwards, Søren Kvorning, the director of Danfoss in Singapore expressed that there is a lack of incitement for companies to work together in Denmark when developing complete green solutions. He explained that in Singapore, a competition had taken place where new solutions were to be developed to increase the energy efficiency in buildings by 20 percent. Danfoss participated, focusing on ventilation. The director explained that projects like this could initiate energy renovation in Copenhagen.

Løkke asked what the companies’ motivation were to participate in this kind of competition and the director explained that it gives the companies the possibility to scale if they succeed.

A more direct approach was again addressed when the country manager at Novo Nordisk in Singapore, Trine Winther Lavrsen, stated how the Singaporean government now officially has declared war on diabetes, which is an increasing problem here. She asked if that is something Denmark should consider doing as well.

The Prime Minister explained how it is different here in Asia where most diabetics are female compared Denmark where more males have diabetes. Furthermore, he expressed that he was not too sure a designated “war on diabetes” is the right move, explaining how in Jakarta it is impossible to walk from one building to the other because the infrastructure does not benefit pedestrians. He therefore thinks lifestyle is a matter that needs to be addressed more directly.

Other topics like multiculturalism and school systems were addressed during the dialogue. It was mentioned how ownership of an apartment or property might reduce the sizes and amounts of ghettoes because the sense of ownership would give people a stronger feeling of belonging. Moreover, it would minimize vandalism. A topic that concerns the Prime Minister a great deal, stating the importance to solve ghetto issues and improve integration, so “Denmark does not would break into two”.

Photo Credit: Tatyana Kildisheva

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