Norway has a long history of success and achievement within the maritime industry. As one of the world’s leaders and employer of over 97,000 people, the country is the fifth largest maritime nation in the world. With a focus on innovation, cooperation, and an ongoing commitment to the environment, the Norwegian Ministry of Trade and Industry and its Maritime Strategy is central in this process.
Quality and competence are the key words related to the Norwegian maritime industry. Through the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s Maritime Strategy, the Ministry has the goal to contribute to the global development of the maritime industry in a transparent and consist way – emphasizing environment in all aspects. According to the Minister of Trade and Industry Sylvia Brustad, “I have the belief that our international emphasis on more strict environmental standards within maritime will lead to positive results. We continue to focus on raising maritime competence and innovation to meet the challenges of the future. Our vision is clear – Norway will be a world leading maritime nation. Norwegian maritime industry will supply the most innovative and environmentally-friendly solutions for the future.”
Knowing that the world market is indelibly interrelated and that transparency and social responsibility are of the outmost importance, the Ministry promotes environmentally-friendly sustainable development while working with organizations both national and international in securing a successful future for the industry. The Government’s Maritime Strategy highlights this focus in addressing the main challenges facing the maritime sector.
These challenges include the ongoing process of globalization of the maritime sector. The Ministry, knowing that now more than ever that the world is moving towards a single market, seeks to work both nationally and internationally in facilitating correct, fair and transparent framework. The introduction of a Norwegian maritime tax structure that is competitive with the rest of Europe has its roots in achieving this goal.
||The Naming Ceremony of the Far Searcher, taking place in Bergen in 2008.
© Vidar Pedersen, NIS
Fair and consistent national taxation is only one aspect of finance measures and initiatives designed to continue to position Norway in the role of facilitator in the development of international regulations for shipping. Health, environment and safety are also important aspects of the Maritime Strategy and it is the goal of the Ministry that these factors will continue to be integrated in all facets of Norwegian maritime activities.
Specific initiatives aimed towards the continued process of raising the international profile of Norwegian maritime activities include the development of the Global Maritime Knowledge Hub, with a national project – reaching to the far corners of the globe. This knowledge is reinforced by an ongoing commitment in general by the Norwegian Government as part of its Maritime Strategy, the initiative laying the groundwork for maintaining Norway’s position as a world leader in maritime industries and provides a blueprint for expanding the sector through greener technology (See separate article related to the Global Maritime Knowledge Hub).
Close communication is essential to a united maritime sector here in the country, and the Norwegian Government has ongoing cooperation with member organizations such as the Association of Norwegian Maritime Exporters (NME), Norwegian Maritime Suppliers (NML), and the Maritimt Forum of Norway. They all share the goal of expanding the Norwegian shipping industry’s global market share. Adept at promoting the interests of the sector, these organizations also act as points of contact for customers needing advice in choosing the most suitable Norwegian suppliers or potential partners, and work with the Norwegian Government to promote the development of best policies relating to the industry. This is a high priority, since competition requires more than sheer expertise from the maritime cluster; it also requires the understanding and the backing of the Government for the industry to keep pace with fast-changing developments on the international level.
This cooperation is also very evident in regards to the Norwegian International Ship Registers – NIS. The Register is under the governance of the Ministry of Trade and Industry and located in Bergen, Norway. NIS was successfully established and opened on July 1st, 1987 with the goal of strengthening the maritime industry in Norway. Since then, great emphasis has been placed on maintaining NIS as a competitive and attractive quality register both for Norwegian and foreign owners.
Strategy and research programmes such as MARINTEK, the Norwegian Marine Technology Research Institute and MARUT, the cooperative effort between the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Norwegian Shipowners Association and the Federation of Norwegian Industries also help the Norwegian Maritime Industry stay on the cutting-edge. The Research Council of Norway is also key within R&D with such activities that include SMARTRANS and MAROFF, supporting research which can contribute to increased value creation, innovation, competitiveness and environmental effectiveness of the Norwegian maritime industry.
||The Ulstein Group’s emission indexing system and the long-term goal to produce an overall environmental index, is a significant boost to the maritime industries, not only in Norway, but also across the world.
One member organization that truly represents both a traditional history as well as an innovative future is the Norwegian Shipowner’s Association (NSA). The NSA’s core goals complement the Norwegian Maritime Strategy, with the organization’s focus areas; environment and innovation; maritime competence and recruitment; employer assistance; and industry framework and politics.
The NSA will celebrate its 100th year in 2009, and has always been committed to working closely with the Norwegian Government in the process of building the Norwegian maritime industry as a unique brand. The vision is clear and focuses on cooperation and leadership, not in the least when it comes to sound environmental policy. According to General Director Sturla Henriksen, there is no compromise when it comes to finding innovative environmental solutions, “The NSA works with its members, the Norwegian Government and a variety of R&D organizations in continuing to find environmental solutions aimed towards making Norway leaders in the international climate struggle.”
These activities are concrete and includes responsible recycling of ships, continued reduction of atmospheric conditions, establishment of forums focused on environmentally friendly shipping and other initiatives. One high profile activity is the biennial Heyerdahl Award, presented to a company or organization that has made significant contributions to improving environmental standards. This award was established in 1999 by the NSA and Thor Heyerdal, and is a symbol of Norway’s focus and priority on innovation and the environment.