President Tony Tan hails strong ties with Norway

At Arkershus Castle yesterday, Dr Tan highlighted the strong partnership between Norway and Singapore, while Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg spoke of the potential for the two countries to work together.
At Arkershus Castle yesterday, Dr Tan highlighted the strong partnership between Norway and Singapore, while Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg spoke of the potential for the two countries to work together.ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH

Close to 400 Norwegian companies are in Singapore - the largest concentration in Asia - and more are welcome, President Tony Tan Keng Yam said yesterday.

Norwegian firms can use Singapore as a test bed for new technologies and solutions, and as a gateway to the Asian market, he added.

Speaking at a lunch hosted by Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg at the Akershus Castle in Oslo, Dr Tan drew attention to the strong partnership between the two countries, in business, maritime cooperation, and research.

He also highlighted these areas in a speech at a gala dinner at the Royal Palace the night before.

"Singapore and Norway enjoy a close and long-standing friendship. Both countries are maritime nations with open economies, a similarity that has enabled Singapore and Norway to form a mutually-beneficial partnership," he said. "Our peoples share much in common, including values of resilience, determination and a capacity for hard work."

Dr Tan, who arrived on Sunday, is on a six-day state visit to Norway.

He said yesterday that bilateral trade between Singapore and Norway today has more than doubled compared with that 10 years ago.

Among Singapore's European trading partners, Norway is the 8th largest with total bilateral trade last year hitting $2.4 billion.

Dr Tan also cited the setting up of the Singapore-Norway Chamber of Commerce last month and the recent Norway-Asia Business Summit held in Singapore in April as testament to the interest of both countries' business communities to strengthen collaborations.

A business delegation of 13 Singapore companies is also in Norway in conjunction with the state visit.

At lunch yesterday, Ms Solberg spoke of the potential for Norway and Singapore to work together.

"My country needs to tap into the ideas and dynamism of South-east Asia. We need to be future ready. In Singapore, we find people who share that ambition," she said.

"Both our economies are in transition and our futures depend on smart solutions," she added.

Dr Tan said: "Singapore and Norway may be in different parts of the world, but we have forged a strong partnership rooted in shared interests and common views on many issues."

Norway had in 2011 supported Singapore's bid to join the Arctic Council, enabling it to become a permanent observer in 2013. Singapore has also backed Norway's bid to strengthen ties with Asean.

Dr Tan also highlighted the 10 agreements signed earlier in the dayby various Singapore and Norwegian institutes, on research and education, and innovation and technology sharing.

The signing was witnessed by Dr Tan and Norway's King Harald V, at the opening of the Norway-Singapore Research and Enterprise Seminar, held at the Research Council of Norway.

One of the agreements inked is a collaboration between the National University of Singapore (NUS); Norway's Foundation for Scientific and Industrial Research; and the Norwegian Marine Technology Research Institute in the research of multi-purpose floating structures.

NUS engineering science programme director Wang Chien Ming, said such off-shore structures can be used in Singapore as fuel storage facilities or even homes.

Prof Wang added: "The Norwegians are very good in offshore engineering. They have been using their technology to extract hydrocarbons from very deep sea as well as in very harsh environments."

The Nanyang Technological University and Norwegian University of Science and Technology signed three agreements to collaborate on research areas such as sustainable energy generation and to expand student exchange from the current 10 Singaporeans to 24 annually.

Dr Tan also met the governor of Norges Bank and chief executive officer of Norges Bank Investment Management yesterday. The bank manages Norway's Government Pension Fund Global, and Dr Tan was briefed on its work.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 12, 2016, with the headline 'President Tan hails strong ties with Norway'. Print Edition | Subscribe