The Sin­ga­pore-Nor­way Cham­ber of Com­merce has made many achieve­ments in the first nine months since its in­cep­tion.

Norway-Asia Business Review - - Contents - SOFIE LISBY

Ithas been a lit­tle less than a year since the launch of the Sin­ga­poreNor­way Cham­ber of Com­merce (SNCC) and the cham­ber is slowly but surely get­ting its foot­ing. Fol­low­ing the ini­tial sign­ing of an MOU with Sin­ga­pore’s Busi­ness Fed­er­a­tion, the city-state’s main busi­ness cham­ber, which rep­re­sents more than 22,000 com­pa­nies and lo­cal and for­eign busi­ness cham­bers, the SNCC has since forged strong re­la­tion­ships with Sin­ga­pore’s pre­mier busi­ness and in­vest­ment bod­ies, in­clud­ing the Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Board (EDB) and In­ter­na­tional En­ter­prise Sin­ga­pore (IE Sin­ga­pore) with whom the cham­ber has or­gan­ised var­i­ous events.

“We have reached around 50 mem­bers and we are in di­a­logue with var­i­ous in­sti­tu­tions in Sin­ga­pore in­clud­ing the EDB, the Mar­itime and Port Author­ity of Sin­ga­pore, IE Sin­ga­pore and oth­ers,” says Erik Bor­gen, Pres­i­dent of SNCC and for­mer head of fi­nan­cial ser­vices group DNB’s Asia of­fice in Sin­ga­pore. “We have held a num­ber of board events and also as­sisted busi­ness del­e­ga­tions from Sin­ga­pore to Nor­way.”

Launched in re­la­tion with the state visit of Sin­ga­pore’s Pres­i­dent H.E. Dr Tony Kam Yeng and his wife Mrs Mary Tan to Nor­way in Oc­to­ber last year, the SNCC was cre­ated with the aim of pro­mot­ing Nor­way to Sin­ga­porean com­pa­nies. With more than 250 Nor­we­gian com­pa­nies in Sin­ga­pore, the city-state is one of the pre­mier in­vest­ment des­ti­na­tions for Nor­way with bi­lat­eral trade reach­ing SGD 23 bil­lion in 2014. In ad­di­tion, Nor­way is Sin­ga­pore’s eight largest trad­ing part­ner from Europe and its fourth largest in­vestor from Europe, and co-op­er­a­tion is par­tic­u­larly strong in ar­eas such as mar­itime and off­shore sec­tors as well as ed­u­ca­tion and re­search and de­vel­op­ment.

How­ever, de­spite the amount of trade and in­vest­ment be­tween the two coun­tries, lit­tle ex­ist in the way of sup­port net­works for com­pa­nies look­ing east to west. “The idea is to cre­ate a fo­rum here in Nor­way to pro­mote the de­vel­op­ment of busi­ness re­la­tions be­tween Sin­ga­pore and Nor­way,” said Erik Bor­gen at the launch of the SNCC last year. “We would also very much like to at­tract more Sin­ga­porean busi­nesses to Nor­way so it is not as loop-sided as it is to­day.”

The SNCC op­er­ates on a small mem­ber­ship fee and the Cham­ber plans to or­gan­ise events that are of in­ter­est to its mem­bers. Ac­cord­ing to Mr Bor­gen, the cham­ber is pri­mar­ily a net­work­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion whose aim it is to pro­mote the de­vel­op­ment of busi­ness re­la­tions be­tween Sin­ga­pore and Nor­way by or­gan­is­ing events where mem­bers gather to dis­cuss top­ics that are of in­ter­est to them.

One of the SNCC’s most re­cent events was a break­fast sem­i­nar coor­gan­ised with the EDB, ti­tled “Sin­ga­pore – The Launch­pad for Do­ing Busi­ness in Asia”. At the event, the EDB gave a pre­sen­ta­tion on Sin­ga­pore’s unique po­si­tion as a gate­way to Asia and

the op­por­tu­ni­ties present in ASEAN. The pre­sen­ta­tion high­lighted the re­gion’s po­ten­tial as a grow­ing con­sumer mar­ket worth more than USD 1.2 tril­lion, as well as its rich hu­man and nat­u­ral re­sources and grow­ing pool of global com­pa­nies. Mr Bor­gen stresses that the SNCC is not a fo­rum on how to do busi­ness in Sin­ga­pore but rather about build­ing mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial re­la­tion­ships.

“The EDB is prob­a­bly the largest and most in­flu­en­tial busi­ness and in­vest­ment re­lated body in Sin­ga­pore and it has been very in­flu­en­tial in pro­mot­ing Sin­ga­pore as an in­vest­ment des­ti­na­tion for decades now,” ex­plains Mr Bor­gen. “The idea of the event was to in­form peo­ple about the co-op­er­a­tion pos­si­bil­i­ties with the EDB and we also had DNV GL present their ex­pe­ri­ences work­ing with the EDB in Sin­ga­pore. It is dif­fi­cult to make gen­er­al­i­sa­tions about what the EDB can pro­vide be­cause they ne­go­ti­ate their in­volve­ment from case to case. It could be ev­ery­thing from fa­cil­i­tat­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for com­pa­nies to set up shop in Sin­ga­pore to ac­tu­ally join­ing in in some of these ven­tures whereby they ac­tu­ally take part both in terms of eq­uity and also sup­port­ing through grants and other soft mea­sures. So a case study gave the au­di­ence an idea of what is pos­si­ble.”

The SNCC also re­cently as­sisted an IE Sin­ga­pore del­e­ga­tion of com­pa­nies from the oil and gas in­dus­try to Nor­way. “It is well known that the oil and gas in­dus­try is very ad­vanced in Nor­way and we have good tech­nol­ogy. In gen­eral terms, the in­dus­try is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing some chal­lenges in the form of price pres­sures and the whole world is talk­ing about al­ter­na­tive en­ergy. But the in­dus­try is ad­just­ing to lower prices and I think it is clear that oil and gas will con­tinue to be pro­duced for decades to come. With our ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy and knowhow in Nor­way we can con­tinue to be part of that.”

Ac­cord­ing to Mr Bor­gen, Sin­ga­pore is keen to at­tract more tech­nol­ogy driven in­dus­tries as a re­sult of the down­turn in the oil and gas in­dus­tries. At the same time, changes in the global econ­omy are forc­ing Nor­way and in­deed the rest of the world to push in­no­va­tions and look for new ways to de­velop and re­new key in­dus­tries. “It is clear that bod­ies like the EDB is keen to move the city into a more tech­nol­ogy driven econ­omy as tra­di­tional oil and gas and re­lated in­dus­tries are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a down­turn,” he says. “Nor­way is a strong player in the al­ter­na­tive en­ergy sec­tor so there are plenty of op­por­tu­ni­ties for co-op­er­a­tion.”

An­other event that has taken up a lot of Mr Bor­gen’s time lately is NorShip­ping, one of the world’s lead­ing mar­itime events, at­tract­ing mar­itime in­dus­try play­ers from all over the world to Oslo ev­ery other year. The event builds on Nor­way’s long his­tory in the mar­itime in­dus­try and pro­vides a plat­form for the in­dus­try at large to dis­cuss trends and new busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties. In ad­di­tion to an ex­hi­bi­tion, which will show­case 22,500 square me­ters of the new­est in mar­itime tech­nol­ogy, ser­vices and so­lu­tions, ar­ranged into na­tional pavil­ions, the event will also fea­ture var­i­ous round­table dis­cus­sions, de­bates, con­fer­ences and busi­ness brief­ings as well as a packed so­cial cal­en­dar with am­ple net­work­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties. This year’s event will fea­ture the so-called “Asian Belt Podium & Round­table Meet­ing”, or­gan­ised to shine the spot­light on busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties in ASEAN and In­dia and dis­cussing top­ics such as lever­ag­ing tech­nol­ogy and smart so­lu­tions, trends spe­cific to the ship­ping in­dus­try in Asia, and is­sues sur­round­ing ship re­cy­cling.

“We are ar­rang­ing speak­ers at the event and will be present in the Sin­ga­pore stand,” says Mr Bor­gen. “This is open to our mem­bers who can at­tend and learn more about how Asian ac­tors can ad­dress some of the chal­lenges that face the ship­ping in­dus­try to­day, par­tic­u­larly in Asia. The themes will be around chang­ing mar­ket con­di­tions, the need for in­creas­ing ef­fi­ciency in tough mar­ket con­di­tions, the lever­ag­ing of new tech­nol­ogy and smart so­lu­tions and ob­vi­ously dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion.”

Nor-Ship­ping will be the last ma­jor event for SNCC this side of sum­mer but Mr Bor­gen prom­ises a packed pro­gram for au­tumn. “We’re still in the early days and things don’t just hap­pen overnight,” he says. “But it is im­por­tant to cre­ate aware­ness and work to­gether with the rel­e­vant bod­ies in Sin­ga­pore as they usu­ally know what the lo­cal com­pa­nies are seek­ing in terms of in­vest­ments over­seas.”



Above Left: An­dreas Sohmen Pao, Chair­man BW Group ad­dress­ing SNCC’s Asian Belt@Nor-Ship­ping event. Above: Ed­mund Mok, Re­gional Di­rec­tor for the Nordics, EDB ad­dress­ing the SNCC event on Busi­ness out of Sin­ga­pore in April 2017.

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