Sin­ga­pore wel­comes a new Nor­we­gian Am­bas­sador, Anita Ner­gaard.

Nor­way in Sin­ga­pore are two al­lies span­ning con­ti­nents, but they are strong al­lies nev­er­the­less. This is vis­i­ble in the num­ber of Nor­we­gian busi­nesses lo­cated in Sin­ga­pore.

Norway-Asia Business Review - - Contents - ANRIKE VISSER

Nor­we­gian Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion Sin­ga­pore (NABS) es­ti­mates there are close to 200 Nor­we­gian com­pa­nies es­tab­lished in Sin­ga­pore and these com­pa­nies rep­re­sent one of the high­est con­cen­tra­tion of Nor­we­gian busi­ness in­ter­ests in any city in the world out­side of Nor­way. Close to 150 Nor­we­gian com­pa­nies are mem­bers of NBAS.

We talked with Am­bas­sador to Sin­ga­pore since Au­gust this year, Ms Anita Ner­gaard, about the close re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries and her pri­or­i­ties for the years to come. “Sin­ga­pore is an ex­it­ing and fas­ci­nat­ing place. When I ar­rived, Team Nor­way in Sin­ga­pore al­ready had a very busy agenda. It will be my pri­or­ity to take this for­ward, in par­tic­u­lar build­ing on the very good re­la­tion­ship we have within ship­ping and the mar­itime sec­tor. How­ever, we will also look at what more we can do when it comes to the high-tech sec­tor, so dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion, au­toma­tion and ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies. This is rel­e­vant both within the mar­itime sec­tor and be­yond. Tech­nol­ogy is also a broader fo­cus since the en­tire econ­omy is mov­ing into the di­rec­tion of dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion.”

Be­cause of this dig­i­tal revo­lu­tion and the im­por­tance of tech­nol­ogy to both Nor­way and Sin­ga­pore, the two coun­tries may also ad­dress the risks re­lat­ing to high-tech to­gether. “Cy­ber se­cu­rity is cer­tainly an im­por­tant part of the se­cu­rity en­vi­ron­ment to­day. We fol­low up on cy­ber se­cu­rity as part of the broader se­cu­rity pol­icy. We have a di­a­logue with Sin­ga­pore on a range of po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity-re­lated is­sues like ter­ror­ism, vi­o­lent extremism and cy­ber­se­cu­rity.”

Am­bas­sador Ner­gaard ex­plains the rea­son for Nor­we­gian com­pa­nies to choose Sin­ga­pore as their base. “Sin­ga­pore is a hub in dif­fer­ent sec­tors. We see very clearly that Sin­ga­pore is a state of the art mar­itime hub and that ex­plains why so many Nor­we­gian com­pa­nies – from the en­tire value chain – are here.” Sin­ga­pore is not just a hub for the mar­itime sec­tor ac­cord­ing to Am­bas­sador Ner­gaard. “We also see how Sin­ga­pore im­ple­ments its vi­sion to be­come a hub for other sec­tors as well, like the fi­nan­cial sec­tor and within re­search and de­vel­op­ment. This is vis­i­ble in gov­ern­ment-funded and pri­vately-funded think tanks, in­cu­ba­tors and ac­cel­er­a­tors, and a very wide and ac­tive in­vestor seg­ment.”

There­fore, for many types of

busi­nesses this is a good place to be. Sin­ga­pore can func­tion as a gate­way to Asia. “When we present the op­por­tu­ni­ties we can find in Sin­ga­pore; we com­pare it to Sil­i­con Val­ley. Es­pe­cially if you are a smaller start-up com­pany and you want to go abroad, you could choose be­tween two fer­tile and in­no­va­tive cli­mates in the world. One would be Sil­i­con Val­ley and the other would be Sin­ga­pore, de­pend­ing on the com­pa­nies’ tech­nolo­gies and where they think their fu­ture markets could be.”

In gen­eral, “[t]here are cer­tain ad­van­tages com­pa­nies con­sid­er­ing Sin­ga­pore would be wise to con­sider,” Am­bas­sador Ner­gaard states. “There is al­ready a con­sid­er­able Nor­we­gian pres­ence here so it could be eas­ier to set up shop here. You would meet many oth­ers from Nor­way. It is also very easy to set up a com­pany here; you could set up a com­pany within days. Fur­ther­more, it is a very safe en­vi­ron­ment with a pre­dictable frame­work, like the tax regime. We see that many com­pa­nies use it as a hub for Asia or as a gate­way to other Asian markets. Of course, not all com­pa­nies need to have to come here. It re­ally de­pends on their busi­ness.”

Nor­way and Sin­ga­pore not only work to­gether on the busi­ness side. They also join forces in tack­ling po­lit­i­cal and so­cial is­sues to­gether. On 29 Septem­ber 2017, Arc­tic Fron­tiers to­gether with the Em­bassy hosted a sem­i­nar in Sin­ga­pore about cli­mate change seen first in the Arc­tic. “Arc­tic cli­mate is im­por­tant as we heard from the key­note speaker Dr. JanGun­nar Winther from the Nor­we­gian Po­lar In­sti­tute. He was un­der­lin­ing a cou­ple of rea­sons why he thought this was im­por­tant to Sin­ga­pore and coun­tries like Sin­ga­pore in this re­gion. Those rea­sons were echoed by the par­tic­i­pants from Sin­ga­pore. First of all, cli­mate change with melt­ing of ice could lead to ris­ing sea lev­els. In the Arc­tic you can see these changes more clearly and ear­lier then in the rest of the world,” says Am­bas­sador Ner­gaard. Se­condly, the open­ing of the North­ern Sea Route presents op­por­tu­ni­ties as well as chal­lenges to all mar­itime na­tions.

Asian coun­tries in­clud­ing Sin­ga­pore, China, In­dia, Ja­pan and South Korea, have been ob­server states in the Arc­tic Coun­cil since 2013. Sin­ga­porean Min­is­ter of State in the Prime Min­is­ter’s Of­fice, Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs and Min­istry of Man­power, Mr Sam Tan ad­dressed the is­sue of the Arc­tic and cli­mate change dur­ing the open­ing re­marks of the sem­i­nar. “The fu­ture of the Arc­tic’s en­vi­ron­men­tal well­be­ing is also crit­i­cal for Sin­ga­pore and South­east Asia. We are con­cerned about ris­ing sea lev­els. Sin­ga­pore is a low-ly­ing is­land with al­most 30 per­cent of the land less than 5m above the mean sea level. In fact, our Na­tional Cli­mate Change Sec­re­tar­iat, which de­vel­ops and im­ple­ments Sin­ga­pore’s do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional poli­cies to tackle cli­mate change, has pre­dicted that sea lev­els will rise be­tween 0.25-0.76m to­wards the end of the cen­tury due to cli­mate change and global warm­ing. The Arc­tic is a glob­ally sig­nif­i­cant barom­e­ter of the im­pend­ing changes in our world. In my trav­els to coun­tries such as Canada and Nor­way, it is of­ten said that what­ever hap­pens in the Arc­tic does not stay in the Arc­tic. Vice versa how­ever, what­ever hap­pens out­side the Arc­tic does not stay out­side the Arc­tic as well,” says Min­is­ter Tan, as re­flected on the web­site of Arc­tic Fron­tiers.

But melt­ing arc­tic ice also opens up new sea routes as Am­bas­sador Ner­gaard ex­plains. “The melt­ing sea ice also opens up the North­ern sea route - the route from north­ern Europe passed Nor­way and along the Rus­sian Arc­tic all the way down to South Korea, Ja­pan and China. That route is be­com­ing more ac­ces­si­ble as a re­sult of cli­mate change. And that will have a po­ten­tial ef­fect on ship­ping. The pas­sage is around 40% shorter than the nor­mal route.”

This brings op­por­tu­ni­ties also for Sin­ga­pore. “In par­tic­u­lar, the open­ing of new Arc­tic wa­ter chan­nels, such as the North­ern Sea Route, could sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce ship­ping travel time be­tween Asia and Europe. This could give a boost to the mar­itime in­dus­try although the full cost of com­mer­cial trans­porta­tion in the new ship­ping lanes is still not fully known. A new ship­ping route could also com­ple­ment Sin­ga­pore, which has one of the world’s busiest ports, re­ceiv­ing about 120,000 ves­sels each year. This trans­lates to 300 ships ev­ery day and 12 ships ev­ery hour. As a sea­far­ing na­tion, our mar­itime in­dus­try has de­vel­oped decades of ex­pe­ri­ence and strong cre­den­tials in ship­build­ing and re­pair, off­shore en­gi­neer­ing, port op­er­a­tion and marine sup­port ser­vices. Sin­ga­pore can fur­ther con­trib­ute to the de­vel­op­ment of mar­itime in­fra­struc­ture to help fa­cil­i­tate safe ship­ping in the Arc­tic re­gion,” ac­cord­ing to Min­is­ter Tan.

The favourable busi­ness cli­mate for the mar­itime, tech­nol­ogy and fi­nance in­dus­tries, makes Sin­ga­pore an op­tion to con­sider when look­ing at places to set up a com­pany in Asia. Es­pe­cially since Sin­ga­pore is tak­ing over chair­man­ship of the ASEAN, the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions, in 2018. Fol­low the lat­est de­vel­op­ments through the news­let­ter of the Royal Nor­we­gian Em­bassy in Sin­ga­pore. And feel free to con­tact the em­bassy for sup­port and ad­vice re­gard­ing busi­ness ac­tiv­i­ties as well as reg­u­lar consular ser­vices.

On 25 Oc­to­ber 2017, H.E. Am­bas­sador Ms Anita Ner­gaard pre­sented her cre­den­tials to the H.E. the Pres­i­dent of Sin­ga­pore, Madam Hal­imah Ya­cob at the Is­tana, the of­fi­cial res­i­dence and of­fice of the Pres­i­dent of Sin­ga­pore. Pic­ture shows H.E. Am­bas­sador Ms Anita Ner­gaard, H.E. the Pres­i­dent of Sin­ga­pore, Madam Hal­imah Ya­cob and the Am­bas­sador’s hus­band, Mr Erik Just Olsen.

PHOTO: SIN­GA­PORE MIN­ISTRY OF COM­MU­NI­CA­TIONS AND IN­FOR­MA­TION

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