Norway’s future lies in being smarter, not cheaper, Norway’s Prime Minister, Erna Solberg, said at the opening of the weeklong Nor-Shipping 2015 exhibition in Lillestrøm on 2 June.
“This is why we are investing so heavily into innovation, research and development,” she said.
The Norwegian government launched its maritime strategy last week, which Solberg says will be “the answer” to moving the country’s maritime industry forward.
“Through our maritime strategy, the government wants to establish a solid regulatory framework. Central to our strategy is competence, research, development and innovation,” she said, pledging to “remain focused” on ensuring safety and environmental will be at the core of their strategy.
“Research is key, and we will stimulate increased research in order to strengthen value creation,” she said, adding that “the success of the maritime cluster includes education and access to qualified personnel”.
Solberg said that despite the maritime industry’s current challenges, shipping is still important to her country.
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“Since the offset, most shipping companies have experienced tough times, struggling to cover operational costs, while some markets have shown improvement,” she said. “But the industry should be proud of what it has been achieved so far.”
She admitted, however, that predicting the future is a challenge, adding, “The only thing we can be sure of is a great deal of uncertainty.”
In his opening conference address Norwegian Shipowners’ Association CEO Sturla Henriksen said, “Norshipping has spent the last 50 years looking forward and asking ‘What Next?’ Many of the traditional sectors are suffering from oversupply and under-demand, and the shipping industry is facing unchartered waters unseen at this rate before.
“While this is an industry affected by the global economic crisis, it also contributes vitally to global economic growth and prosperity,” he added.
Looking to the future, Henriksen said he sees opportunities ahead. “A precondition of globalisation means a growing demand for shipping and offshore services and we see new business opportunities are opening up,” he said, predicting, among other things, greater efficiency. “One ship in coastal or regional trade can substitute hundreds of trucks, reducing accidents, emissions, and other societal costs.”