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Speech at The Norwegian Shipowners’ Association’s Annual Conference:

Government Policy for Ocean Pioneers

"For a nation that may seem located in the outskirts of a small continent, the sea has not acted as barrier, but rather as a bridge – and gateway to the world", said Finance Minister Siv Jensen (Progress Party) in her speech today.

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There is a lot about the future we do not know.

But one thing is certain.

We will live by the sea, from the sea and off the sea.

As we have done – for more than a thousand years.

The ocean is the blue thread running through Norwegian history.

This blue thread has always been our main source of life, and it has been spun and shaped by our ocean pioneers:

Fishermen, farmers, sailors, stewards, cadets, captains, engineers, shipbuilders, shipbrokers and ship-owners.  

The sea has forced us – or inspired us – to be alert and aware of dangers, to ride the waves, reef the sail and catch the wind – to change tack to meet new challenges – and to heed the mighty forces of Mother Nature – without surrendering to them. 

Already the Vikings constructed ships that far exceeded the vessels of wealthier nations down south on the European continent.    

Today, Norwegian shipyards are building the world's first gas-driven ferry, the first electric ferry, the first electric fishing boat, the first operational ocean-based offshore fish farm built with existing deep-water petroleum technology – and so much more.

Our marine and maritime position should not become a comfortable pillow – but act as a stepping-stone.  

That is why the Norwegian Government has launched an ambitious ocean strategy – as national as it is global in scope – and as job-creating as it is problem-solving in ambition.

It stretches from green technology, digital solutions and new uses for marine resources, to international diplomacy and the fight against climate change, illegal fishing and plastic pollution. 

By summer this year, we will present an updated strategy, designed to ensure continuous growth and job-creation in the Norwegian ocean economy.  

The ocean is where jobs will be created – and solutions to global challenges found.

Research and knowledge are not only key to the creation of new jobs in Norway and elsewhere, but also crucial for reaching the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.

The success of our strategy depends on our continued capacity to combine our historic competence with creativity.

We have done it before.

When Norway first discovered oil in the North Sea in 1969, we knew very little about the petroleum industry.

But thanks to centuries of contact with the ocean and experience from shipping, shipbuilding and managing natural resources, we learned fast how to produce oil and gas in a prudent manner.

The job of the government is not to create jobs – but to create the conditions you need to create jobs – by employing the most effective tools at our disposal.   

Since 2013, we have doubled Norway's budget for business-oriented research and innovation.

We spend 70 percent more on building and maintaining roads and harbours. 

We are establishing five catapults – national centres where researchers and small businesses can come to try out their ideas – ideas that might not have made it past the drawing board if the market were left alone.

Needless to say, three of these catapults will specialise on what we already know best – ocean technology. 

We have lowered the corporate tax rate, removed the property tax on machinery and equipment and secured a ten year extension of the shipping tax scheme.

We have allocated 10 billion kroner to a new domestic ship finance scheme and ship guarantee scheme.

We ensure the competitiveness of the Norwegian flag – and, as a result, the Norwegian International Ship Register counted 614 ships in February.

The most important thing we do, however, is to ensure the favourable and predictable framework conditions you need in order to meet future challenges and facilitate growth.

That is absolutely crucial for all businesses – but especially for you – who operate in one of the most unpredictable and volatile sector of all businesses. 

Furthermore, your business is a business that many other businesses depend upon.

The real value of world trade has increased eightfold since 1970 – leading to an unprecedented level of growth and prosperity.

The triplet forces of trade, cooperation and respect for the rules of the game has made win-win replace zero sum as the paradigm for decision-making.

This trade boom has reinforced the interdependence of nations and our sense of common destiny.

Trade can only blossom if relations are peaceful and predictable. 

Since World War II, a rules-based world order and open markets have served the global economy well. Big countries as well as small countries have benefited.

That is why we are concerned when leading economies start raising barriers to trade.

And that is why we have to stand up for a system that has served us so well.

Our co-dependence goes much further than buying and selling each other’s products. 

We do not just buy and sell each other's products.

We make them together, in integrated global value chains.

If you buy an American computer – it is likely to be made up of Japanese parts – put together in China.

Many German and American cars would not hit the road without Norwegian aluminium.

These beneficial value chains are made possible by the maritime sector. 

Others should be grateful to you.

The world is facing tremendous challenges – from conflict, hunger and poverty to climate change.

To some extent, the answers we seek will be found in the ocean.

If we manage to strike the right balance between protection and production, we will be able to harvest lasting resources from the sea.

I am confident that our engineers, researchers, shipbuilders and ship-owners will play a central role in finding the answers of the future – from creating jobs to developing green shipping.  

I commend the Norwegian Shipowner's Association for its strong support of the IMO strategy on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ships.

For a nation that may seem located in the outskirts of a small continent, the sea has not acted as barrier, but rather as a bridge – and gateway to the world.

So you do not have to be a fortune-teller to tell that the ocean will remain an important part of our fortune – as well as an important source of jobs, wealth and prosperity.

Norway has had countless adventurers, heroes and pioneers at sea.

And, today – we need them more than ever. 

Thank you and good luck!

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