Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario started his two-day official visit to Norway on Wednesday, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
Del Rosario had been invited by Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende.
The two foreign ministers are expected to discuss on February 12 Philippines-Norway cooperation in the “areas of peace mediation, maritime affairs, disaster risk reduction and management and trade and investment.”
The visit is expected to give del Rosario the opportunity to convey to Brende the Philippine government’s appreciation of Norway’s firm support to the peace process and its commitment to assist the Philippines’ efforts to improve further seafarers’ education and training.
It is also seen as a way to affirm Manila and Oslo’s solid partnership in disaster risk reduction and management.
Around 25,000 Filipino seafarers are on board Norwegian-owned or -registered merchant vessels.
Filipino maritime students benefit from the education and training provided by the Norwegian Training Center – Manila (NTCM), which was established by the Norwegian Shipowners Association (NSA) in 1990.
The NSA has embarked on a plan to expand and develop further the NTCM as the top training provider for Filipino seafarers.
Del Rosario will make a pitch for more Norwegian investments in renewable energy in the Philippines, particularly geothermal and solar power in which Norway has world-class expertise.
The Philippines is a recipient of Norway’s sovereign wealth fund investments.
The Norwegian government’s Pension Fund Global, owned by the Ministry of Finance of Norway on behalf of the Norwegian people but administered by the Norges Bank Investment Management, is the biggest sovereign wealth fund in the world with a combined asset worth $870 billion as of May 2014.
The fund is invested in companies outside Norway under strict criteria such as good corporate governance and acceptable ethical standards.
The top 10 Philippine companies with the biggest investments from the fund based on market value in 2013 were Metro Pacific Investments Corp., GT Capital Holdings Inc., SM Investments Corp., PuregoldPrice Club Inc., PLDT, Alliance Global Group Inc., International Container Terminal Services Inc., Petron Corp., Ayala Land Inc and Universal Robina Corp.
Del Rosario’s visit reciprocates that of Brende to the Philippines in January 2014, during which the Norwegian foreign minister had the opportunity to call on President Benigno Aquino 3rd and to visit the Super Typhoon Yolanda-affected communities in the province of Leyte.
Norway’s total humanitarian assistance to victims of the typhoon reached almost $35 million.
The money was coursed through several United Nations agencies such as the United Nations Children’s Fund, World Health Organization, Central Emergency Response Fund, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, World Food Programme and Food and Agriculture Organization, and international organizations such as the Red Cross, Save the Children Fund and Caritas.
Norway is the third-party facilitator for the peace talks between the Philippines and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front.