Norway Enters into Formal Partnership with ASEAN

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Norway has become the first European country to enter into a formal partnership with the ASEAN trading bloc. The northern European country has been accepted as a Sectoral Dialogue Partner, a move that was announced at the recent ASEAN meeting in Kuala Lumpur. The ASEAN free trade area includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Taken as a whole, ASEAN is the world’s fourth largest economy. This economy is expected to see significant growth because of the organization’s intention to launch a common market by the end of this year, the ASEAN Economic Community.

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Børge Brende, Norway’s Foreign Minister, has called the new partnership “extremely positive” as it will help to grow the opportunities available for Norwegian companies in the fast emerging Southeast Asian markets. Many of the nations in the region are home to some of the world’s fastest growing middle-classes and thus have growing consumer markets, making them attractive export destinations.

The Minister further explained that “ASEAN is playing a steadily more important role regionally and globally, both in political and economic terms…Norway’s partnership with ASEAN is therefore good news for Norwegian companies.”

While businesses of all types are expected to benefit from the new agreement, certain business sectors are expected to see a particularly large increase in the number of opportunities available, these include:

  • Oil and gas
  • Fertilizer
  • Maritime

Foreign Minister Brende also met with a number of Southeast Asian leaders during the recent ASEAN meeting. This included meeting with Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh. The two leaders discussed a range of possible areas for cooperation, including navigation, shipbuilding, hydroelectricity, and sea-based economy, as well as increasing coordination and mutual support at regional and international forums.

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Collectively, ASEAN represents Norway’s fourth largest trading partner. There are currently around 250 Norwegian companies operating in the region, this number is expected to grow in the future as the ASEAN markets continue to mature.

ASEAN is also currently considering applications from Ecuador, North Korea, and Mongolia to establish formal partnerships with the trade bloc. In addition, a number of the ASEAN countries are also negotiating their own bilateral trade agreements, such as the recent EU-Vietnam FTA and a possible Philippines-European Free Trade Association FTA.

To view all of ASEAN’s trade partnerships and its other international agreements, please see here.


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