“One of our closest friends in Asia.”
These words came from Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg, when she paid tribute to the friendship between Norway and Singapore at the sixth edition of Norway-Asia Business Summit 2016.
One year after Norway became independent in 1905, the Scandinavian country set up a consulate here – a sign of Singapore’s importance as a harbour for Norwegian vessels.
On Wednesday 13 April 2016, 110 years later, Ms Erna Solberg could happily confirm the close ties between the two countries.
She was hosted to lunch at the Istana by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. According to Erna Solberg, they both share a history and a forward-looking economic relationship, including digital services, renewable and sustainable energy, start-ups with a global future, just to mention a few along the longstanding ties in maritime and oil and gas.
Before heading to the Istana to meet Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and President Tony Tan Keng Yam, Prime Minister Solberg ended her speech saying: “Singapore is a treasured partner for Norway, both economically and politically. I am convinced our best opportunities still lie before us.”
On social media Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has announced, that he was very happy to meet Ms Erna Solberg.
“Norway and Singapore enjoy good economic relations, especially in the maritime sector. Our ties go back more than a century,” he tells in his statement and also reaffirms the close ties between the two countries. On Wednesday 13 April 2016 he said Norway will host a state visit by President Tony Tan Keng Yam in October.
Lee Hsien Loong noted that Singapore has long been “a home away from home” for the Norwegian seafaring community. Norway is now the sixth largest contributor to Singapore’s Registry of Ships, while Singapore hosts the largest Norwegian business community in Asia, with nearly 400 companies here.
“There is also a significant Norwegian presence in our maritime ecosystem, including shipping banks and brokerage firms,” he added.
He also shared with Ms Erna Solberg and her delegation how Dutch economist Albert Winsemius had once wondered aloud as to why he felt an affinity with Singapore and found success here. Dr Winsemius, who was Singapore’s economic advisor from 1961 to 1984, concluded that it was because of the Dutch tradition of Calvinism that emphasised self-reliance and hardwork, traits he saw in Singapore’s pioneer generation.
“A similar mindset applies in northern Europe, to be able to survive long winters, harsh climates, not necessarily fertile lands and to be able to endure, grow and develop a high civilisation,” said Lee Hsien Loong.
“We need that kind of mindset, and so we find kindred souls on the other side of the world and we make common cause together.”
He also cited Norway’s foresight and discipline when it discovered large reserves of oil and gas in its continental shelf in the 1960s. It set up the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global, with spending rules that are strictly adhered to.
Last, he thanked Ms Erna Solberg for Norway’s strong support for Singapore’s participation as an observer in the Arctic Council.
“I look forward to enhancing the close and longstanding friendship between our countries.”
Sources: www.straitstimes.com.sg, www.nbas.org.sg