The Norway-Asia Business Summit 2023, held in Bangkok from November 30 to December 1 at the Avani+ Riverside Bangkok Hotel, brought together distinguished speakers and experts across various industries, fostering discussions on crucial topics ranging from environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices to digital transformation and investment opportunities. The summit provided a platform for insightful discussions and presentations on critical issues shaping the business landscape in the region.
The summit kicked off with opening remarks by MC Natalie Bridgette Becker-Aakervik and welcoming remarks by Thai-Norwegian Chamber of Commerce President Axel Blom. Important Key-note speakers were H.E. Mr Tore O. Sandvik, Norwegian Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, and Dr. Nalinee Taveesin, Thailand Trade Representative, who covered a varity of issues from the upcoming Free Trade Agreement between the EFTA States and Thailand to opportunities for Norwegian businesses in Thailand.
A notable keynote address was presented by Mr Beda Merkelbach, Senior Vice President Thailand & Myanmar at Yara Thailand, and Ms Marisa Soares Rebelo, Senior Vice President, Innovation and Impact – Africa & Asia, Yara International (Singapore), focusing on achieving food security and sustainable agricultural development. The energy transition was explored by Mr Samuel Low, Head of Consulting APAC at Rystad Energy, providing insights into opportunities in the evolving energy landscape.
Mr Ole Bjørn Sjulstad, Senior Vice President and Head of Telenor Asia’s investment team for Thailand, delved into Asia’s digital future, while Ms Gita Sabharwal, United Nations Resident Coordinator, shared the United Nations vision for sustainable progress in the context of environmental, social, and governance considerations.
A panel discussion on navigating the green transition in Asia was moderated by Ms Gita Sabharwal, featuring panellists including Ms Marisa Soares Rebelo, Mr Samuel Low, and Mr Ole Bjørn Sjulstad.
The summit also featured breakout sessions, such as “ESG for Boards: Getting Ready for New Realities,” moderated by Mr Mattias Goldmann. Speakers and panellists included Ms Turid Solvang, CEO of FutureBoards, Ms Karin Greve Isdahl, Country Manager at Innovation Norway Vietnam, and Dr. Somjin Sornpaisarn, President of The Thai Bond Market Association.
Another breakout session, “The Low Carbon Energy Value Chain in APAC: Opportunities and Challenges,” was moderated by Mr Reidar Grevskott, with speakers like Mr Andreas Nilssen Skorpen, Principal Consultant, Rystad Energy covering Development of grid infrastructure in APAC, Mr Das Na Songhkla, Country director, DNV Thailand exploring low carbon energy prospects.
The third breakout session, “Digital Transformation: Navigating the Digital Frontiers,” was moderated by Mr Bhisidh Nardee. Head of Strategic Alliances and Communications, True Digital Group. The discussion featured speakers like Ms Manisha Dogra, Senior Vice President at Telenor Asia, and panellists including Mr Thanawat Watanarotkajorn, Senior Manager, Digital Growth and Commercialization, at Yara Thailand and Mr Arin Pruksanusak, Agriculture Vertical Lead, IoT & Digital Solutions, at True Digital Group as well as Mr Menno Keppel, CEO, Agri Solutions Asia Co.,Ltd. discussing the agricultural sector’s digital transformation.
During Plenary II on Investment Opportunities, the summit delved into critical insights presented by key figures in the field. Dr. Luxmon Attapich, from the Global Partnership Program, Program Management Unit for Competitiveness, highlighted the broader landscape of investments into Asia. Following this, Ms. Tanita Sirisup, Executive Director of the Foreign Investment Marketing Division at the Thailand Board of Investment, shed light on the specific advantages and opportunities for investments in Thailand. Mr. Shi Datuo, a founding partner of DTL Law Office talked on advantages of investments into China. H.E. Mr Nagesh Singh, the Indian Ambassador to Thailand, presented fun-filled and humoristic perspectives on investment opportunities in India, contributing to the comprehensive understanding of the Asian investment landscape. H.E. Ms Hilde Solbakken, the Norwegian Ambassador to Vietnam, then shared insights into the promising investment climate in Vietnam. The session concluded with Mr Gard Madsen, Director of Investment in Norway, explaining the compelling reasons why Asian companies should consider investing in Norway.
Transitioning to Plenary III on Electrical Vehicles (EVs), the focus shifted to the transformative developments in the electric vehicle sector. Ms. Christina Bu, Secretary General of the Norwegian EV Association, shared invaluable insights from Norway, a leading country in EV uptake, providing a benchmark for sustainable practices. Mr Chantakorn Gridwitchayayarkarn, Vice President of the Electrical Vehicle Association of Thailand (EVAT), outlined the evolving landscape of electric vehicles in Thailand. The session progressed with Mr Allan Christensen, CEO of Enetek Power Group (Pixii), discussing innovations shaping the future of EV infrastructure. Further, Mr Rawee Boonsinsukh, Executive Vice President at Bangchak Corporation Plc, presented a case study on the successful implementation of electric vehicles in Thailand under the project “Winnonie.” The presentations collectively offered a comprehensive overview of the investment landscape in the region and the transformative potential of electric vehicles in Asia.
The day ended with a gala dinner, where two lucky winners were drawn among the guests for return air tickets to Oslo donated by Norse Atlantic Airways
On the second day of the summit, Plenary I on Trade and Investment commenced with Mr Paul Sumner, Partner at PwC Thailand, providing insights into “New Paradigms in Free Trade.” Following this, Mr Ole Jørgen Henæs, Regional Director Asia at Innovation Norway, discussed strategies for empowering success for Norwegian companies in the dynamic Asian market. The plenary continued with success stories that exemplified the flourishing partnerships between Norway and Asia. Ms Kristine Anvik Leach, Managing Director of Jotun Thailand, shared the accomplishments of Jotun in the Asian market in the first success story. Dr. Asbjørn Rørtveit, Director of South-East Asia at the Norwegian Seafood Council, presented the second success story, highlighting the thriving seafood industry’s impact in the region. The third success story shifted the perspective, with Mr Komut Maneechai, Managing Director of BCPR Co., Ltd., illustrating the success of Asia in Norway. Concluding the success stories, Mr Jostein Aksnes, CEO of Seven Peaks, offered insights into building successful startups in Asia with a European perspective.
Following a brief coffee break, the summit transitioned into Breakout Sessions. Breakout IV focused on Business and Human Rights, delving into the nexus of Human Rights and ESG. Moderated by Ms Sara D’ Anzeo, Partnerships Specialist at the United Nations ESCAP, the session aimed to explore the realities of businesses’ human rights responsibilities. Speakers and panellists included H.E. Mr Espen Rikter-Svendsen, Norwegian Ambassador to Bangladesh, Ms Turid Solvang, CEO of FutureBoards, Ms Belinda Hlatshwayo, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer at UNDP, and Mr Jostein Kobbeltveit, Executive Director of the Rafto Foundation for Human Rights.
Continuing with Breakout Sessions, Breakout V focused on Startups in Thailand. Moderated by Mr Amarit Charoenphan, a Local Startup Ecosystem Builder, the session showcased Thailand’s potential for business expansion and what sets it apart in the Southeast Asian landscape. Key speakers included Mr Amarit Charoenphan himself, offering an introduction to the Thai market and opportunities for tech companies, and Mr Paul Srivorakul, Co-Founder & Group CEO of aCommerce, who shared insights into scaling and growing tech companies in Thailand.
Simultaneously, Breakout VI addressed ESG Climate Action, guided by Mr Robert C. Fox, Chair of the Digital Economy/ICT group and Head of the Climate group at the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce of Thailand (JFCCT). The session featured speakers like Dr. Tine Rørvik, Global Director of Climate Impact and Circularity at SCG and SCGC, Mr Johan Seland, Head of Sustainability at Telenor Asia, Mr Svein Stolpestad, Group Vice President Strategy and Sustainability at Jotun, and Mr Lars Svensson, JFCCT Sustainable Development Chair and Chief Executive at Sasin Sustainability & Entrepreneurship Center.
In the subsequent Breakout VII, themed “Feeding the Future World,” Mr Andras Thorud, China Director at the Norwegian Seafood Council, moderated a session tackling the global challenge of securing enough food for the future population. The panel featured speakers including Mr Micheal Keaney, Country Manager – Myanmar at Yara, Mr Maarten Geraets, Former MD Alternative Proteins at Thai Union, and Mr Bjørn Wallentin, Senior Vice President Qrill at Aker BioMarine.
After a lunch break, Plenary II, “Invest In Thailand,” took centre stage, focusing on Thai government investment support schemes. Moderated by Ms Vibeke Lyssand Leirvag, Chairwoman of the Joint-Foreign Chamber of Commerce, the panel included Mr Veeris Ammarapala, Governor of the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand, Dr. Cholachit Vorawangso Virakul, Assistant Secretary General of the Eastern Economic Corridor Office of Thailand, and Ms Nathareekon Saesubak, Investment Promotion Officer at the Foreign Investment Marketing Division, Thailand Board of Investment.
The day concluded with Plenary III, a final panel discussion on “How can foreign companies succeed in Asia?” Moderated by Ms Natalie Bridgette Becker-Aakervik, the panel comprised Mr Beda Merkelbach, Senior Vice President at Yara Thailand, Ms Hsiao Mae Wu, Marketing Manager at Jotun Thailand, Ms Manisha Dogra, Senior Vice President and Head of External Relations at Telenor Asia, and Ms Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, President of Toshiba Thailand. The insightful discussion provided a comprehensive overview of investment opportunities, startup ecosystems, climate action, and challenges in feeding the future world, offering valuable insights for businesses and stakeholders.
For more information about the summit, please click here.