Norway may boost Asian port links
By K.K. CHADHA
NORWEGIAN shipowners may seek to further strengthen ties with counterparts in Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan following Oslo's decision to stay out of the European Union.
Janne Julsrud, Norway's consul-general, made the comment as she addressed the Hong Kong Shipowners' Association (HKSOA) on Friday.
HKSOA director Michael Farlie said his secretariat had enjoyed a 'very productive' relationship with its Norwegian counterpart over the past decade.
'One point was that Norwegians and Hong Kong owners traditionally employed Chinese ratings sourced from Hong Kong, before switching to other nationalities.' Ms Julsrud said Filipinos accounted for about 40 per cent of the seamen employed aboard Norwegian vessels.
The Norwegian Shipowners' Association, together with the Norwegian authorities, had set up a training programme to improve the quality of foreign seafarers on ships.
The group has also established a training centre in the Philippines, offering more than 40 courses.
Ms Julsrud said the main challenge Norwegian owners faced outside their own borders was the direction of future shipping policy in their main markets - the United States and the EU.
She said Norway was worried the US was becoming more of a port state and less a shipping nation.
The US is Norway's largest market for shipping. 'The Norwegian authorities and carriers, therefore, see it as an important task to closely follow the developments in US shipping policy,' she said.
'The reason for this is that US shipping policy, with its highly complex intermingling of shipyard, seafarer, and carrier interests, has made it nearly impossible for national carriers to operate profitably in international and coastal trades.' Ms Julsrud said the Norwegian Government was drafting a White Paper outlining the country's shipping policy and maritime activities. The paper will be submitted to Parliament.
The paper would assess the industry's current situation and its contributions to the country's economy in the context of industrial policy.
Under a new tax regime introduced recently, the Norwegian shipping sector was now on par with other industries.
This was based on a wish to draw capital to the most productive sectors of the economy without having the picture altered by varying tax structures, she said.
A recent report pointed out Norway was among the few shipping nations in the world which offered no opportunity for regular tax-free operation.
It said international shipowning activities were carried out in an environment which was, in reality, tax exempt.