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This is how Norway will conquer the oceans

One of the world’s strongest maritime nations, Norway, should become an even stronger competitor on the world’s oceans. The government has a new growth plan underway – see the key points of the plan here.

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The liberal government of Norway is currently finalizing the details of a new maritime growth plan - in many ways similar to its Danish pendant – that should secure the nation a leading position in the future. The plan is to launch the new strategy in the spring of 2015, but several key points have already been outlined in a preliminary draft. It sends an important political signal, says Sturla Henriksen, CEO of the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association.

“The important thing is that they show a political ambition to ensure that Norway remains a world leading maritime nation,” he tells ShippingWatch in an interview at his offices in Oslo.

Norway to launch ambitious maritime plan 

In the preliminary strategy, the government - made up of the conservative party Høyre, headed by Erna Solberg, and Fremskrittspartiet – points to eight areas that need to be strengthened in order to maintain and develop the country’s maritime sector:

• Blue growth: Possible synergies in the cluster, and the potential for creating additional value with technology related to the sea.

• International framework conditions: To identify central development characteristics within maritime markets, international policy development and to set goals for the international work.

• Skills and education: To strengthen education within the maritime industries.

• Research, development and innovation.

• Environment: Green shipping and opportunities to advance short sea shipping.

• Maritime administration and simplification: A competitive Norwegian shipping database and a more efficient maritime administration.

• Trade area: The Norwegian shipping database NIS should ensure growth in Norwegian-flagged ships, for example by looking at an arrangement for net salaries.

• The Northern area: The framework for the maritime industry in the Northern area should be discussed.

Read more about the strategy (in Norwegian) here

Sturla Henriksen is very pleased with the individual elements of the proposed strategy.

“It deals with framework conditions, development of skills, how to focus on education, research and innovation. We have talked about the environmental side of things, and just like Denmark we have green growth. We are absolutely sure that is what will separate the future winners from the future losers,” he says, adding:

“I’m complete convinced that if you want to create a sustainable business, you have to contribute to a sustainable society.”

The development of a Norwegian maritime strategy has been through various stages and since 2007 the country has had a plan, which nevertheless needed to be developed in tune with the changes in the world, Sturla Henriksen says, stressing that Norwegian carriers now have a solid political foundation to stand on. The maritime policy was a significant part of the 2013 election, which both the current government and the opposition focused on.

When the new government of Høyre and Fremskrittspartiet assumed office in October 2013, one of the main elements in the inaugural declaration was therefore a focus on the maritime cluster as an essential growth area to be focused on in the business politics – that focus is currently being incorporated in the maritime strategy.

Shipping shares soar on the Oslo Stock Exchange 

Although the strategy is a necessary step for the Norwegian cluster, the industry is already in a very strong position, says Sturla Henriksen.

“We have a big fleet, approaching 1900 ships and rigs and evenly divided between traditional shipping and offshore. It’s one of the biggest fleets in the world in terms of value and it’s characterized by being highly advanced an diversified,” he explains and elaborates:

“We have great market shares internationally throughout the spectrum, from traditional deep sea shipping to regional, European shipping and highly demanding offshore operations.”

A small, but strong nation

He points out that Norwegian carriers – much like the Danish – are present throughout the production chain, from offshore to production of supply subsea operations and more, due to the technological development.

“We have gone from being a nation on the ocean to being a nation in the very ocean. That’s an important development characteristic. With an ever-increasing need for energy sources, the seabed with all its minerals will play a bigger role. It offers great commercial opportunities for advanced carriers,” Sturla Henriksen says.

Norwegian shipowners' association gets new Chairman 

The entire value chain in the Norwegian maritime environment, with everything from carriers to manufactures of equipment, funding, and research, has helped support the development in Norway and will – together with the coming strategy – put the nation in a great position going forward, he assesses:

“Norway being a small country with few people means that people come together, talk to each other, that they switch jobs in maritime field – and that’s an important source of skill transfer and an important source for creating innovation and renewal. In the development of the Norwegian maritime cluster, we see that we are constantly moving into more advanced segments. That will continue – on the ocean and in the ocean area. It’s that development this strategy aims to support and reinforce.”

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