Asia secures foothold in the Arctic Council

China, India, and Japan are among the six new countries granted observer status in the Arctic Council at yesterday's meeting in Kiruna, Northern Sweden. A natural development, says the shipowners' association, but it's still important to make sure that the Arctic coast states remain in control.

The Arctic Council has accepted new major players, as China, Japan, and India have now been granted observer status in the Council. In light of the region's developments and especially the global attention the regions has received in the past year, it's a natural development that the Council opens the door for more international players, who can "enjoy a more permanent position from which to listen in on the proceedings," says Jan Fritz Hansen, vice president of the Danish Shipowners' Association.

"Securing an international approach is a sound decision, as well as the fact that the first round includes countries with a special interest in the Arctic and with plans to sail in the region. As for China, one can imagine that part of their trade with Europe will go through the Northeast Passage to China, Japan, and other places. In that sense, they have an interest in the fact that part of their foreign trade can go that way," he says.

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