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Norway Partners With ASEAN Free Trade Bloc

ASEAN foreign ministers accepted Norway as a Sectoral Dialogue Partner at their recent meeting in Kuala Lumpa, following Norway's application early this year to establish a formal partnership with the Asian bloc.

The ASEAN free trade area includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Taken together, the ASEAN bloc was Norway's fourth-largest trading partner and home to the highest concentration of Norwegian companies operating abroad in 2014, according to the Norwegian Foreign Ministry.

Norway will be the first country in Western Europe to enter into a formal partnership with ASEAN.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende said that the partnership "will give us access to important political arenas and enhance the opportunities for Norwegian companies in Southeast Asian markets."

"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," Brende added.

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