Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to welcome all of you to this Conference on Seafood Transport and Logistics - as a part of the Northern Maritime Corridor Programme - which is also a part of the Northern Periphery Program.
I especially want to welcome all the foreign guests from several countries that have come a long way to participate in this conference, from countries of the Northern Periphery Areas as well as from the North Sea region.
The world is constantly changing because of factors in technology, economy and politics. These changes can also be seen in increased globalisation. The key challenge is to cope with these changes, and to take advantage of opportunities and strengths for regions, business and people.
Globalisation is a process where geographic distance becomes an increasingly less important factor in the establishment and maintenance of border-crossing economic, political and socio-cultural relations.
Therefore it is much more important than ever to strengthen cross-border co-operation, between regions as well as countries, to be able to strengthen the economy, culture and the standard of living.
Information from OECD is also telling us, that regions which successfully face the challenges of globalisation, are those who are best integrated into the world economy based on transactional co-operation between regions and countries.
Iceland became a full member of the NPP Northern Periphery Programme 2002, and it is an important element of the new Regional Development Plan here in Iceland, that was approved by the Icelandic Parliament the same year.
Although there are only 2 years since Iceland became a member of the NPP Program - the Program has already become both popular and successful here in Iceland - as can bee seen from the fact that Iceland is already a member of 14 out of 29 - or 50% of all projects within the NPP.
It seems that the market - experts and individuals - from public and private bodies - has seen this NPP programme as a good opportunity to establish increased transactional co-operation with other partners in the NPP countries - and even neighbour countries like Canada, Russia and USA - which are already partners of at least 4 projects within NPP.
The projects within the NPP Programme are covering several industries and services as well as subjects, as we can clearly see by this conference today. The overall aim of the Program is to increase the competitiveness and growth of concerning regions and countries, by increasing transactional co-operation and learning.
Maritime safety is a topic that is high on the international agenda and the importance is growing - due to increasing globalisation, trade and transportation of all kinds.
The major industries in the regions of northern Europe are based on exploitation of natural resources like fish, minerals, petroleum and timber. However, most of them find their main markets in central and southern parts of Europe - as well as in other parts of the world. .
The Northern Maritime Corridor is therefore important programme in this contest to connect the resources of the north to the consumers to the south. The Programme is valuable to develop - an efficient, safe and environmentally friendly maritime transport corridor - with competitive transport solutions supporting the regional development in costal regions.
This conference on Seafood Transport and Logistics - are therefore - important step - to develop further maritime transport solutions within the area - for seafood that are competitive with other type of transport.
The strengths of regions in our countries are many like; culture, the sagas, skilled people, great natural resources and clean environments, etc. But at the same time our common challenges are many – like the cold climate, the sparse population, the long distances and difficult transport conditions.
It is therefore important to exchange experiences - not least in the area of maritime transport - in order to minimize our common challenges and to find ways to exploit our common opportunities and strengths
I would like to use this opportunity to thank you for holding this Conference here in Iceland - and I know that this project on Seafood Transportation and Logistics - is of great importance for us.
The co-operation within this project, as well as other NPP programmes will increase our strengths and competitiveness, making us better prepared to cope with the challenges we are facing – in rapidly changing world and globalisation - and hopefully turn them into economic and cultural value for regions, countries, business and people.
The work here today will be a valuable addition to future co-operation between concerning countries and I look forward to hearing more about your activities.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would again like to wish our foreign guests welcome to Iceland - and wish them a pleasant stay.
May you all have a fruitful meeting, and I wish you all the best.