The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Espen Barth Eide, is currently on an Asia tour, visiting Brunei and Kuala Lumpur for the 46th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. During his visit, he signed the Treaty on Amity and Cooperation between Norway and ASEAN.
ASEAN is becoming an increasingly important trade partner to Norway with a total trade of 2.8 billion Euro in 2011. The main areas of trade are oil- and gas and shipping.
Brunei became a member of ASEAN in 1984, seventeen years after ASEAN was founded, and is the Chair of ASEAN in 2013.
The foreign minister met the Secretary-General of ASEAN, Dr. Surin Pitsuwan in November last year at the 9th Asia-Europe Meeting Summit (ASEM 9) in Vientiane. During this meeting the minister relayed the Norwegian interests in signing the treaty and Norway’s intentions to apply for an ASEAN Dialogue Partner status. Norway, who recently became an ASEM partner, has committed to annually contribute one million Norwegian Kroner to the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF).
After his visit to Brunei, Barth Eide travelled to to Kuala Lumpur today to meet with several Malaysian ministers, and with Norwegian business interests in Malaysia. There are around 50 Norwegian companies in Malaysia, and the Norwegian Government’s Pension Found has invested about USD 2 billion in 80 Malaysian companies.
Malaysia will chair ASEAN in 2015.