Sustainable Coastal Living: Opening speech
Ladies and gentlemen
(How are you?)
When I visited the Republic of Korea for the first time in 2007, I was particularly impressed by the astonishing economic, political and social development the country had been through in recent decades. During the last few years, our bilateral relations have developed even further. I am very pleased that today we enjoy a strong political, commercial and cultural partnership.
The theme of this seminar, “Sustainable Coastal Living”, is related to the theme of the International EXPO in Yesou, which I visited yesterday. The seminar covers the main areas of trade and commercial relations between Korea and Norway: the maritime sector, marine resources and energy, with an overarching focus on sustainable management. Within all these sectors, our two countries have great potential for closer cooperation.
The theme of EXPO and this seminar also relates to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, which will take place in Rio de Janeiro in June. Rio +20 is an opportunity for world leaders to give new impetus and direction to the global and national efforts towards sustainable development.
During my visit in 2007, I was involved in efforts to foster closer cooperation between Korean and Norwegian businesses. Today I am very pleased to see that our trade relations are flourishing. The Trade Agreement between EFTA and the Republic of Korea that entered into force on 1 September 2006 has been of great importance in this respect.
Let me revert to the sectors of importance to today’s seminar, starting with the maritime sector: today Korea is one of the most important markets for Norway’s maritime industry. It receives the largest number of port calls by Norwegian ships in Asia, and it is also the largest market for Norwegian maritime equipment.
Today Norway’s maritime fleet is the world’s seventh largest, while our offshore fleet is second largest. Our high-tech maritime industry is one of the most innovative and dynamic sectors in our economy.
Let me now turn to another sector that is important for Korea and Norway: the marine sector. We appreciate that Koreans share our taste for good seafood. Korea and Norway are major producers of seafood, and thus we also share the responsibility of managing fish stocks and aquaculture in a sustainable manner.
Sustainable management of these resources is the responsibility of all coastal states. Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is a serious problem globally. The production of healthy seafood to feed the world’s fast growing population is another responsibility that should be shouldered by all coastal states. A key task in this respect is to create an environment for sustainable use of marine resources that can enhance global food security and simultaneously provide delicious food.
At the same time as there is an ever increasing global demand for food, there is also an increasing demand for energy. Norway has a long history in developing renewable energy. Of our total energy consumption, 60 % is from renewable sources.
Over the last 40 years, Norway has also become a major oil and gas producer with a competitive petroleum industry. We are ranked as the seventh largest oil exporter and the second largest gas exporter in the world. All of Norway’s petroleum resources are located offshore. 40 years of challenges on the Norwegian Continental Shelf combined with dedicated research have fostered an innovative industry.
The High North is expected to provide new opportunities for oil and gas activities and transport between Europe and Asia – the Northern Sea Route. Environmental and climate considerations should be part of all phases of petroleum activities. Korea’s technological expertise makes it a natural partner in efforts to address environmental and climate challenges. Furthermore, as Korea is a major player in global trade, the Northern Sea Route should be of great interest for developing future transport routes.
Korea and Norway share a common goal: sustainable coastal living. The business sectors in both our countries clearly recognise this. They are all at the cutting edge of technological and commercial innovation. The Norwegian companies represented here today are here to strengthen their business cooperation with their Korean partners and develop new and mutually beneficial opportunities together with them. They are deeply committed to this cooperation, and they intend to be here for the long haul.