Norway’s Ambassador to the Philippines, Knut Solem, yesterday introduced his country to the officers and members of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (CCCI), as he vowed to strengthen the collaboration of CCCI and the Philippines Norway Business Council (PNBC) for more joint ventures and more cooperation in the maritime industry, energy, agriculture, BPOs and technical developments, as well as in human assistance and disaster relief.
“My marching order as ambassador here is to go out and make a difference in the Philippines, particularly for more joint ventures in Cebu,” Mr. Solem said during a business luncheon with the CCCI and the PNBC at Marco Polo Plaza in Cebu City.
Amb. Solem said that the Kingdom of Norway, is an Scandinavian unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula in Europe. It ranks as the second-wealthiest country in the world today in monetary value, with the largest capital reserve per capita of any nation. Norwegians enjoy the second-highest GDP per-capita and fourth-highest GDP (PPP) per capita in the world. Its stability as a country is based on continued oil and gas exports, coupled with a healthy economy and substantial accumulated wealth, It is expected to continue as among the richest countries in the world in the foreseeable future and Norway can help Cebu achieve further economic growth as it becomes more competitive towards the coming of ASEAN economic integration in 2015.
He also said that Norway was one of the first countries to provide relief assistance to the calamity victims of Typhoon Yolanda and will continue helping the country in its relief and rehabilitation efforts to areas affected by the typhoon.
CCCI President Lito Maderazo expressed gratitude to the kind ambassador and acknowledged the need for a greater Cebu and Norway cooperation. He said that the CCCI, as the voice of Cebu’s business community and the engine of Cebu’s business growth towards global competitiveness, will help put Cebu and Norway on the path of shared prosperity and economic sustainability.
“I am confident that Cebu in the years to come will be a more important market for Norwegian companies.” Mr. Maderazo said.
PNBC President Capt. Ivar Thomasli, meanwhile, introduced the PNBC and its objective which is to promote trade, commerce, industry and investment between the Philippines and Norwegian public and private sectors, to foster friendly relations, mutual understanding and closer cooperation between the two countries, and to contribute towards the advancement of both economies.
During the business meeting, the PNBC also presented two Norwegian industries in the Philippines; the Managing Director of Norwegian Training Center on Maritime and the Country Representative of SN Power on Energy, which is currently in partnership with the Aboitiz Power. PNBC also informed that at present there are several Norwegian companies in Cebu, namely the British Armour Manufacturing International, the Norwegian Pacific Maritime, several manning agencies, and also Timex, which was founded by a Norwegian.
On the business opportunities in Cebu for Norwegian companies, CCCI Past President Sabino Dapat first narrated that tourism, exports, ICT aided businesses, real estate development, OFW remittances, manpower development and its strategic location were the factors that contributed to the economic growth of Cebu. Mr. Dapat however said that there are issues and concerns that needs to be resolved and where he believes that Norway may come in and invest, particularly on infrastructure, energy and the maritime. He concluded that another area of opportunity that Norwegians can look into is Cebu as a retirement haven.
On hand to witness the event was Ms. Candice Gotianhuy of the University of Cebu, the honorary Norwegian Consul in Cebu for the provinces of Cebu and Negros Oriental.