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The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Milan

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First Plenary Session -  “Promoting Financial and Economic Cooperation through Enhanced Europe–Asia Connectivity”

 

Ministers, Excellencies,

  • Enhancing Europe–Asia connectivity is not a theoretical exercise.
  • It involves day-to-day cooperation that at its core is concrete and practical.
  • The last ten years have brought rapid growth in Norwegian–Asian economic cooperation.
  • Norwegian exports to Asia have almost tripled. Norwegian foreign direct investment in Asia has increased by 70 per cent. There has been a surge in scientific cooperation between Norwegian and Asian universities.
  • Cooperation between European and Asian economies has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, created wealth and boosted welfare in both Europe and Asia. We have shown that economic cooperation is not a zero sum game, but a win-win situation.
  • Now we are facing another formidable challenge. ILO estimates that we need 600 million new jobs by 2020, jobs that will be vital to the dignity of people and the security of nations.
  • And we are facing the challenge of creating these jobs in a situation where the IMF is telling us that growth is still anaemic, and in Europe to a worrying extent jobless.
  • One important part of the answer is trade.
  • We greatly appreciate the efforts to create an ASEAN common market by 2015. This will be important not only for ASEAN members, but also outside the region. The European and Asian economies are connected. A common market will provide greater predictability. It will facilitate even closer ties between Europe and Asia as well.
  • The WTO also plays a crucial role. It has shown its worth since 2008 as a bulwark against rising protectionist pressure. What could have become a depression ended up as a serious recession. Now our focus must be on breaking the current impasse in the negotiations.
  • The World Bank estimates that a successful outcome of the Doha development round will add up to 30 million new jobs to the world economy. This is crucial if we are to tackle the challenge of creating 600 million new jobs.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

  • A number of conditions must be fulfilled if we are to achieve economic growth. The Norwegian experience underlines the importance of a well-functioning state, full competition in domestic markets, the rule of law and full participation of women in the work force for achieving sustainable, inclusive and job-creating growth.
  • We should use the valuable ASEM process to develop solutions to this end.
  • Norway will be a committed partner in securing healthy sustainable growth and enhancing Europe–Asia connectivity.
 

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