Norway has become the first individual western European country to enter into a formal partnership with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). Foreign Minister Børge Brende called the partnership “extremely positive,” since it will boost Norwegian companies’ opportunities in potentially lucrative southeast Asian markets.
“ASEAN plays a steadily more important role regionally and globally, both politically and economically,” Brende said. He noted that the countries making up ASEAN collectively form the world’s fourth-largest economy, and the organization intends to launch a common market by the end of this year.
Brende was in Malaysia this week as a guest at ASEAN’s annual meeting of its member nations’ foreign ministers. ASEAN members collectively formed Norway’s fourth-largest trading partner and also are home to the highest concentration of Norwegian companies doing business abroad.
In Norway, the ASEAN members represented with embassies include Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand and Myanmar.