Activities related to the sea have long traditions in Norway, and a great variety of maritime industries have been developed. We are proud of having a comprehensive maritime cluster that has a strong global position. The Norwegian shipbuilding and maritime equipment industry as well as our maritime service providers are world leading because of the proximity to a strong and diversified Norwegian shipping community. The challenge we are faced with is how to maintain and develop the leading position in the maritime industries in a globalized economy.
The Norwegian Government is developing national growth strategies for some business sectors where Norway has a comparative advantage. We believe that the potential for innovation and growth in these key sectors are higher than in other sectors. On 3 October 2007 we therefore launched a strategy for the maritime industries with the vision that Norway shall be the world’s leading maritime nation. The Norwegian maritime industry shall supply the most innovative and environmentally friendly solutions for the future. The government will support the further growth and development of the many segments of the Norwegian maritime industry. The strategy is therefore supported with a grant of NOK 252 million earmarked for research, innovation and measures to improve expertise. The national maritime strategy is also well timed and connected to the work now taking place on the level of the EU to develop a comprehensive European maritime strategy.
The markets open to the Norwegian maritime industries are experiencing a trend of global growth, and we want to take part in that growth. We are not alone in wishing to harvest benefits from these developing markets. A number of countries pursue the same ambition and want a share of the current growth. If we are to succeed in the international arena, we must stimulate entrepreneurship and innovation through scientific knowledge and a well-educated and experienced workforce. This is particularly true in the area of the environment.
Maritime transport is facing major environmental challenges. The development of maritime activities based on environmentally friendly solutions is our most important responsibility. It is also an area of great potential for growth and business opportunities. I am convinced that the Norwegian maritime industry has the expertise and potential to be the undisputed world leader in environmentally friendly solutions and operations.
I am pleased to note that some Norwegian maritime companies have already taken the lead in this area by using environmentally friendly solutions that surpass existing requirements, and by funding research and innovation in new technology and solutions. Such proactive attitudes will not only contribute to a cleaner industry, but will also in the long run prove to be good for jobs, business and the society at large.