Norway and Singapore share a long history. Norway established an honorary consulate in Singapore in 1906, one year after Norway gained its independence in modern times. A full embassy was established in 1969.
Diplomatic relations between Norway and Singapore are characterised by comprehensive economic and political cooperation. More than 250 Norwegian companies have offices in Singapore – most of them within the maritime and offshore sectors. In 2013 Norway was the 5th largest European foreign direct investor in Singapore with investments amounting to over S$ 20 billion. Norway and Singapore cooperate extensively in the field of maritime research and in education, i.a. through foreign student exchange programmes.
Singapore’s President, H.E. Dr. Tony Tan Kam Yeng and wife Mrs. Mary Tan was on a State Visit from 10 to 12 October 2016 to Oslo and Tromsø after being invited by H.M King Harald V. The visit was the first State Visit from Singapore to Norway and focused on strengthening economic ties, enhancing co-operation in research and education and highlighting Singapore and Norway’s continued collaboration in arctic affairs. Singapore and Norway are global maritime players and a new Joint Statement on Maritime Partnership was signed, together with several other MoUs between Singaporean and Norwegian institutions on research collaboration. In addition to meeting with H.M King Harald V and H.M Queen Sonja, H.E. President Tan and Mrs. Tan met Prime Minister Erna Solberg and the President of the Norwegian Storting, Mr. Olemic Thommessen. During the visit Singapore made their first deposit of seeds to the Global Seed Vault Svalbard, and on their last day, President Tan visited the University in Tromsø and sailed with the research vessel “Helmer Hansen” accompanied by H.M King Harald V.
Prime Minster Erna Solberg was on an official visit to Singapore and Korea from 10-18 April 2016. The visit in Singapore included the Prime Minster’s opening address at the bi-annually held Norway-Asia Business Summit (NABS), courtesy call on the Singaporean H.E President Dr. Tony Tan and meeting and luncheon with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at Istana. The Prime Minster also visited DNV GL’s laboratory in Tuas and tested drone technology for solar panel surveillance. The Prime Minster later spoke at the IISS Fullerton Lecture about “The Global Goals – A Roadmap to a Sustainable, Fair and More Peaceful Future". The visit was rounded off with a working dinner on “The role of governments in economic restructuring”, which included high level Singaporean and Norwegian Government officials and senior business executives from both countries.
Singapore's Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office and Ministry of Manpower Sam Tan was in Tromsø 24-25 January 2016 for the 10th Arctic Frontiers. On the sidelines of the conference, MOS Tan had bilateral meetings with Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende, and the Ministers reaffirmed the good bilateral ties and looked forward to expanding cooperation on Arctic issues
The Standing Committee for Transport and Communication, chaired by Mr. Nikolai Astrup, were on a 2-day visit to Singapore from 27-29 January 2016. The committee met with Singaporean Ministry of Transport, Singapore Mass Rapid Transport (SMRT), Maritime and Port Auhority (MPA), Urban Planning Agency and Det Norske/SMOE.
State Secretary Ms Dilek Ayhan visited Singapore in April 2015 in conjunction with Singapore Maritime Week and to call on Minister for Transport and Second Minister for Defence, Mr Lui Tuck Yew, and Minister of State Mr Teo Ser Luck. Mr Olav Akselsen, Director General of the Norwegian Maritime Authority, also visited Singapore during the Singapore Maritime Week. In March, State Secretary Mr Morten Høglund called on Second Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, Ms Grace Fu.
In 2015, a Singaporean delegation led by Minister of State Mr Sam Tan visited Norway in conjunction with the Arctic Frontiers conference in Tromsø. Bilateral meetings were also held.
In 2014 Deputy Secretary for Foreign Affairs Mr Simon Wong visited Svalbard, Tromsø and Oslo focusing on Arctic affairs and participating in bilateral consultations. Same year, Minister for Education, Mr Heng Swee Keat, called on Minister of Education and Research, Mr Torbjørn Røe Isaksen, and Chief Executive of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, Mr Andrew Tan, visited Consultative Shipping Group Ålesund.
In 2014, the Standing Committee on Education, Research and Church Affairs of the Parliament of Norway visited the Singaporean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Economic Development Board as well as industry and academia representatives. Same year, State Secretary Ms Dilek Ayhan visited Singapore for meetings with the Maritime and Port Authority and the Economic Development Board. In 2014 Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Børge Brende, called on Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, and Second Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, Ms Grace Fu.
In 2013, Minister for Transport, Mr Lui Tuck Yew, led a delegation to Nor-Shipping and met with Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Trond Giske.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Espen Barth Eide, visited Singapore in 2012 and participated in bilateral meetings with Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Law, Mr K Shanmugam, and Second Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, Ms Grace Fu. He also met with think tank and media representatives and witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding on research collaboration between the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies. Same year, the Supervisory Council of Norges Bank, Norway's central bank, visited Singapore to call on several Singaporean authorities in the fields of banking and finance as well as Norwegian business representatives. Also visiting that year was the The Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs of the Parliament of Norway.
The Standing Committee on Transport and Communications visited Singapore in 2011. During the visit the Committee called on the Parliament of Singapore and several Singaporean authorities in the fields of ICT and transport.
Director General of the Norwegian Maritime Authority, Mr Olav Akselsen, and Head of Department of Ship Registration in the Norwegian Maritime Authority, Ms Anita Malmedal, visited Singapore in 2010.
Norway and Singapore are both important shipping nations, and to a great extent share views and interests regarding market entry, security, environmental protection and law of the sea. Norway was the first western country to join ReCAAP – the regional mechanism to combat piracy.
The free trade agreement between EFTA and Singapore came into force in 2003. In the WTO, Singapore and Norway have rather similar interests regarding further development and in strengthening their multilateral trade arrangements: Both countries are open economies and significant foreign trade.
Research and Development
Singapore’s extensive focus on R&D is also reflected in the bilateral relations to Norway. The cooperation within maritime R&D stated in a Memorandum of Understanding between Singapore and Norway has been extended until 2018.
The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), BI Norwegian School of Management, Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) and Norwegian School of Entrepreneurship (Gründerskolen) are particularly active in the bilateral cooperation with Singapore on education. BI has an extensive exchange programme for both bachelor and master students. Every year, there are approximately 100 Norwegian students in Singapore.
There are more than 250 Norwegian companies in Singapore, most of them within the maritime and offshore sectors, but the number of companies in other sectors is increasing as well. This is the highest concentration of Norwegian companies in Asia, and many Norwegian companies have their regional headquarters in Singapore. Singapore is one of Norway’s largest export markets in Asia. For more information, see www.nbas.org.sg.
While Singapore does not give traditional development aid, Singapore provides technical assistance and training of key personnel in developing countries. In 1996 Norway and Singapore made an agreement to initiate the Third Country Training Programme, where experts from developing countries are invited to training courses held in Singapore which are partially financed by Norway.