The Minister’s visit to the “Garden City” from 4 to 5 July was short but comprehensive. Minister Brende met with his Singaporean counterpart Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam, representatives from the Norwegian business community in Singapore, and experts on the region’s political landscape.
“The global order that we have built,” said Minister Brende during his Tuesday afternoon meeting with the Norwegian community, “is now challenged for the first time in many decades.”
The Minister’s somber words was a response to the events that have shaped the last decade, including the global economic crisis, the shifting geopolitical landscape, the rise in isolationism and plummeting oil-prices.
Norway and Singapore are small, open and export-oriented economies of roughly the same population and with large maritime sectors. Minister Brende said that for this model to continue to work, countries must stay committed to a rules-based, open and cooperative international society.
This commitment was also the topic of Minister Brende’s lunch with Singaporean Minister of Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan earlier in the day.
“During the lunch,” writes Singaporean MFA in a press statement, “they reaffirmed the excellent bilateral relations between Singapore and Norway, which share common interests as like-minded small states.”
And the continuous support for the global liberal order, still prevalent many places, lent a spirit of optimism to Minister Brende’s afternoon talk. He pointed out that regional cooperation through ASEAN, the African Union and the Pacific Alliance is invaluable for a country like Norway. Likewise, Brende emphasized that high growth-rates in Asia and rising ones in Europe, paired with a successful restructuring in the Norwegian economy, is very good news.
“The economic optimism is larger in Norway than it has been for the last two years and the growth-rate in the Norwegian economy is on its way back,” said Brende.
Norwegian Ambassador Tormod C. Endresen commented, “This was a good and substantial visit – reaffirming Norway and Singapore’s many shared interests in a predictable world order.”