iðnaðar- og viðskiptaráðherra
fyrir erlenda bankamenn.
I would like to welcome you all to this reception. The title of the investment seminar you have attended today is "Iceland: Small but perfectly formed". This is a well-put phrase. Being small is not a handicap in the new world economy.
The magazine Economist stated that Iceland was an oddity. With a population of just 270 thousand people it is easily the smallest member of the OECD. Yet it has all the trappings of a modern state, our own language, currency and central bank, an opera and an symphony orchestra and a fine body of literature, some of it a millennium old.
In recent years, the government of Iceland has worked to liberalize the financial markets, most restrictions have been lifted and the free flow of capital ensured. The overall aim is to create economic conditions that attract foreign investment, whether direct or portfolio investmens.
Until recently, the bulk of foreign investments has been in energy intensive industries. Iceland}s possibilities certainly include other fields. To name a few, I would like to mention bio-technology, health related tourism, specialized food industries, software and small industries that utilise electric and geothermal energy.
In a small economy, like Iceland}s, every investment matters. This also means that every investor is important. One of the benefits of being small is that the process is simpler and the bureaucracy smaller. Effective administration, and stable political environment, helps make Iceland an attractive investment option.
We Icelanders are proud of our national heritage, dating back more than 1100 years. The reception here today is held at the newly reopened Culture House. It is a preserved building and widely admired as one of Iceland}s national treasures. It was built in 1906-1908. It housed the National Library and the National Archives for most of the last century. It has now been reopended and will in the future stage both theme exhibitions and permanent exhibitions on cultural and historical topics. I hope that you will enjoy the various exhibitions here today.
We are so fortunate to have with us here today a highly regarded and an internationally acclaimed known, Szymon Kuran, who will be entertaining us during the reception.
Dear guests. I hope that your short stay here in Iceland has been pleasant and hope that I will see you in Iceland again soon. And I certainly hope that you will have a wonderful time tonight during the Gala performance of the San Francisco Ballet under the leadership of Helgi Tomasson, one of the most famous Icelandic artist.