Ambassador, Mr. Chaudhary, Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,
It is a great honour to be invited to India in order to open this first-ever Indian – Norwegian defence industry seminar.
As you have heard, I am accompanied by a delegation of high-level officials from the Norwegian Ministry of Defence and from the Armed Forces, as well as a large number of representatives from Norwegian corporations. They all have one thing in common – they wish to better understand the Indian defence market, and to learn more about India’s future needs for modern armament, and related products and services. In particular, they are interested in exploring possibilities for establishing partnerships with Indian companies involved in this sector. It is my hope that the seminar can create an environment conducive to developing further fruitful contacts between the defence industries in India and Norway.
Asia’s amazing rise over the last decades is one of our time’s most intriguing and uplifting stories. In our part of the world, we have been impressed with the way nations in Asia have succeeded in developing the talent and the entrepreneurship of its people, bringing about more than twenty years of uninterrupted sustained growth.
This rise also serves to shift the global centre of financial initiative, from North America and Europe, towards the emerging economies of Asia. India is at the forefront of this development, as India’s ascent is built on a combination of two factors. You have enjoyed a rapid economic rise and have become a global economic power. This is not least due to an open, market-oriented economy and a to the abiliy of the population to turn its education into practical and target-oriented use. Furthermore, India, as the world’s largest is democracy, pursues a constructive foreign policy aimed at peaceful, stable and predictable relations in the region, and at developing and maintaining good links with other nations around the globe. India’s active contribution to United Nations peacekeeping operations is particularly commendable. We see this as yet another expression of India’s desire to work for international peace and security.
No wonder therefore that we also see an increased wish in Norway to further develop our contacts with your country. The trade between India and Norway amounted to more than one billion dollars last year. In addition, the Norwegian Pension Fund has a total of four billion dollars invested in Indian bonds and securities.
Also at the official level there is increasing contact. We note India’s interest in developments in the Arctic, what we call the High North. We have been arguing for India and other Asian countries to be admitted as permanent observers to the Arctic Council, and we were pleased to see that happening in June this year. India’s establishment of a research station at Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago far into the Arctic, is yet another example of our shared interest for developments in this area. Svalbard is one of the best places in the world to see, first hand, the early effects of global warming on the melting glaciers. Clearly, this is of relevance to India and its population, who are so dependent on the water flowing from the glaciers in the Himalaya.
The main focus of Norwegian companies so far, has been on the maritime sector, natural resources exploration and management, and information technology. Drawing on our strengths in these sectors, and on the presence Norway already has in India, it is a logical step to extend this engagement to include the defence sector. This is also interesting for Norwegian companies seeking to broaden their product base, and extend their presence in international markets. For a number of reasons, India stands out as an extremely interesting arena for these ambitions.
First, we are aware that India is conducting a modernization of its armed forces, making India the world’s biggest importer of arms and other defence-related equipment.
Second, we see that India is aiming at diversifying its armament suppliers, focusing more on western manufacturers, and more importantly, towards further developing its own defence industry sector.
Third, Indian companies are increasingly attractive partners to Norwegian companies in its own right, making it desirable for us to work closer with India in as many sectors as possible, including in defence and armament.
Norway does not appear to have a high international profile as an arms manufacturer. But, we do have a national arms industry that dates back to Norway’s independence from Denmark in 1814, and which has continuously evolved to meet the needs of our armed forces. I believe NAMMO, which is represented here today, produced its first 6,5 mm cartridge already in 1896. The Norwegian arms industry has increasingly turned towards international markets. In 2012, Norwegian defence contractors had total a turnover of two point two billion dollars, of which seventy percent went to foreign markets.
Just as India is becoming increasingly interesting to us, I believe there are a number of reasons why we would also be an interesting partner for India’s defence industry sector.
First, we do not focus on manufacturing main platforms like aeroplanes, vehicles or warships. There are exceptions, however, and one of these is the Skjold-class corvettes, of which you will learn more about later today. That said, we focus on making these larger systems work in the best way possible. We provide subcomponents like command and control systems, including communications, combat systems and other technology-based solutions that allow bigger systems to make use of their full potential and efficiency. Norway has developed the American AMRAAM missile into a surface-to-air system, widely expanding its usefulness, and allowing synergy between air-to-air and surface-to-air systems. Also, Norway is a launch customer to the American F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programme, and Norwegian companies will supply many of the components to this fifth-generation aircraft. In the more practical end of the spectrum, a Norwegian company has developed the so-called CROWS turret, greatly enhancing the survivability and effectiveness of light armoured vehicles. These systems have been exported to the US Army and others in large numbers.
Second, being used to integrate our components into highly complex systems, we like to think we have become first rate team players, well able to identify market needs and being trustworthy partners. Furthermore, we believe our industry has a good track record in discerning where and how we can help partners increase market shares, and how we can contribute to make the end product optimally efficient. Our industry has succeeded in penetrating the heavily regulated American military market by working in close partnership with US companies. We believe this experience make us well placed to also work with Indian companies, under Indian Government guidelines, that emphasize the desire to develop a robust national defence sector industrial base.
Third, many Norwegian companies, involved in defence, are also active in civilian sector markets. Knowledge gained through defence projects are constantly being put to use in other market areas, including the maritime and the information technology sectors. With Indian companies expanding in Europe and North America, and with increasing Indian focus on the High North, Norwegian companies also wish to position themselves for long-term, mutually fruitful partnerships in these sectors. Obviously, our industry also has a keen eye on the steadily increasing market for defence equipment in Asia beyond India. India is a logical bridgehead to these markets, again underlining India as the most viable partner for Norwegian defence contractors in Asia.
Today,we will hear a wide field of actors from the Norwegian defence industry. We will have representatives of the Norwegian Defence and Security Industries’ Association; Norway’s National Defence Research Establishment, as well as from the Norwegian Defence Logistics Organisation and the various services. I look forward to learning more about bilateral cooperation experiences gathered so far, from the presentation by Kongsberg Protech Systems & TATA Motors, and not least, I look forward to listening to the Indian Defence Industry Overview in a few minutes.
India is a long way from Norway. In the defence area, the contact between our two countries hasbeen limited.It is my hope that this seminar could be the start of developing new contacts and partnerships in this sector, to the benefit of both countries. I am confident that, under the able leadership of Ambassador Homme and the Defence Attaché, Captain Rykkje, the Norwegian side will work hard to make this happen.
Thank you for your attention.