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ASEAN; Norway: Partnership Plans Announced

(Aug. 24, 2015) According to the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Børge Brende, Norway has been invited to create a formal partnership with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). It is the first Western European country to forge such a relationship with the ten-member organization. (Norway to Enter into Partnership with ASEAN, NORWAY POST (Aug. 17, 2015); ASEAN Member States, ASEAN website (last visited Aug. 20, 2015).)

Brende stated that the partnership will give Norway “access to important political arenas and enhance the opportunities for Norwegian companies in Southeast Asian markets.” (Norway to Enter into Partnership with ASEAN, supra.) As of 2014, the ASEAN nations jointly formed the fourth largest trading partner of Norway, and the partnership may be a step on the way to a free trade agreement between the European Free Trade Association (EFTA, consisting of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland) and ASEAN. (Id.; The European Free Trade Association, EFTA website (last visited Aug. 19, 2015).) Brende went on to state:

ASEAN is playing an increasingly important role regionally and globally, both in political and economic terms. Together, the ASEAN countries have the world’s fourth largest economy, and the association aims to launch a common internal market by the end of 2015. Norway’s partnership with ASEAN is therefore good news for Norwegian companies. (Norway to Enter into Partnership with ASEAN, supra.)

At present, ASEAN has various types of relationships with a number of outside countries and organizations, including Australia, China, the European Union, Russia, the United States, and the United Nations Development Program. (External Relations [in left column of webpage], ASEAN website (last visited Aug. 20, 2014) [click on the heading to view list of outside countries/organizations].)