For the first time last January 8, 2014, PNBC had its networking event as a dinner, rather than the usual luncheon. It was held in honor of Norway’s Foreign Minister, Mr. Børge Brende, the very first MFA Minister to ever visit the Philippines.
Minister Brende was visiting the Philippines in regard of Norway’s assistance to the Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) victims in the Visayas, and the peace process in Mindanao, among others. Prior to the event, Mr. Brende flew to the ground zero of the devastation left by Typhoon Haiyan.
The event was held in Shangri-la Makati and was attended by around 80 Norwegians and Filipinos from various member companies and the Royal Norwegian Embassy.
PNBC President Capt. Ivar Thomasli gave the opening remarks. He echoed the elation of the Norwegian and Filipino business community for having Minister Brende in Manila as a clear indication of the growing Norway-Philippines business and trade relations.
The Council’s Vice President Jannicke Steen presented PNBC’s history and accomplishments since its inception in late 2010, highlighting the Norwegian presence in various business sectors in the country.
After a short but informative introduction by H.E. Ambassador Knut Solem, Minister Brende took the stage and delivered his keynote speech. He observed the diaspora of Filipinos in Norway, but likewise saw that the Norwegian community in the Philippines is also growing. He said that he was scheduled to meet President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III the next day, to discuss increased investments and opportunities for even better trade arrangements in the future. He highlighted the maritime sector as the sector that will continue to be key, noting the world class quality of the Filipino seafarers, but also mentioned onshore investments that can be further developed. He proceeded to highlight the importance of inclusive growth in countries like the Philippines, and the trickling-down of the effects of economic growth and development to the lower echelons of the society.
Minister Brende also mentioned that Norway has extended the 3rd largest donor towards relief and rebuilding of areas devastated by Typhoon Haiyan, and he hopes that the international community will continue to help in building back these areas. He also noted the need for better preparedness, citing statistics that 10% of all typhoons globally hit the Philippines.
Mr. Brende also showed levity and lightheartedness in mentioning a funny anecdote involving the late PM Winston Churchill about how complicated life can be for politicians, which was a big hit to the audience.
He ended by raising a glass for everyone in the spirit of collaboration.
A short Q&A followed, as moderated by Capt. Ivar Thomasli. Ambassador Knut Solem then summed up the things that have been discussed in his closing remarks.
It was indeed a night of a lot of firsts; one that will be written in the annals of history of PNBC.