Solid Roots to Withstand Future Storms
In true Norwegian fashion, the Norwegian Shipowners' Association does not shy from the fact that its power base is shrinking. But, the organization does not concede defeat, and is a powerful lobbyist in helping to rouse political and industry support for measures that could help right the ship. In short, the number of ships and capacity of ships controlled from Norway is dropping, nearly three percent and six percent, respectively, in just 12 months.
The Norwegian owned foreign-going fleet was considerably reduced in 2002, dropping from 1,718 ships at 48.7 million dwt to 1,670 ships at 45.9 million dwt. A reduction of 48 ships and 2.8 million dwt is the most significant decline in the Norwegian controlled foreigngoing fleet since 1993. The offshore fleet represents 21 percent of the foreign- going fleets' total value, while tankers and dry cargo vessels represent 18 percent. Chemical tankers represent 15 percent of the fleet and bulkships 10 percent. Gas carriers and passenger vessels totals approximately seven to eight percent. The Norwegian fleet is still third largest in the world. At the beginning of 2003, Norwegian shipowners held orders for 113 newbuildings, $6 billion, an increase of $1.8 billion compared to the previous year. Measured in contracts, Norway still holds the top spot as a shipbuilding nation, with 29 contracts.
According to Marianne Lie, Director General, Norwegian Shipowners' Association, the problems facing the Norwegian industry are mainly political, and tax based. Specifically, she noted, the European Union has been much more aggressive in recent years of establishing favorable tax breaks to lure shipping companies in, an effort not duplicated in Norway largely because the country's head economist does not favor specialized schemes for specific interests. "In spite of significant competitive challenges.
Norwegian shipping still holds its importance and position," said president Terje Andersen, Norwegian Shipowners' Association. "Our goal is for Norway to be an attractive country for setting up high quality and capital intensive shipping and offshore activities, where the maritime industry has a potential for growth based on a competitive maritime policy and access to global markets," Andersen says.