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State visit to Portugal: Opening speech at business seminar

Speech given by His Majesty The King at the opening of business seminar in Lisbon during state visit to Portugal, May 2008.

Distinguished guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today, Pestana Palace is the scene for the exploration of new ideas and opportunities in the bilateral relationship between Portugal and Norway. However, appreciating the value of the commercial explorations and networks being formed here today, they cannot compete with the Portuguese discoveries some hundred years back in time.

Portugal’s ideas and world leadership in nautical technology was a driver of the first wave of globalisation. In the 15th and 16th century, international trade and commerce was threatened by pirates and closed overland routes. In order to circumvent these difficulties, Portuguese explorers established new seaborne routes. In 1498, Vasco da Gama discovered the sea route from Portugal to India. Some 21 years later, Fernão Magalhães led the first voyage around the world. Portugal became an entrepreneur of transcontinental interaction.

The sea has always been important when it comes to transportation and communication. Mere geography might explain why this has been particularly true in Norway. Situated in the High North on the outskirts of Europe, the sea has always offered a means of contact between Norwegians and the rest of the world. For both Portugal and Norway, the sea has always stimulated cross-cultural exchanges, innovations and technology.

I am therefore pleased to note that the parallel sessions following this plenary opening seek to build on our rich maritime and marine traditions, and to explore new ways of cooperation within these and other fields. The world is increasingly globalised, and we need to apply new ideas and technology in order to secure a sustainable future.

By exchanging ideas on fisheries, renewable energy, environment and information and communication technology, we may get around some of the difficulties of our time. Hopefully, we can also contribute to solving some.

Although trade and cooperation between our two countries have been growing, I believe there is room for further increases in the exchange of goods and services. I am convinced that we have a lot to learn from each other, and that there are great opportunities inherent in a closer relationship between Portugal and Norway.

I wish you well in your endeavours and I hope today’s seminar will contribute to this.

Thank you!


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