More than 80 percent of all trade in merchandise is transported by ship. A global industry is dependent on a global regulatory framework. The Norwegian Shipowners’ Association therefore works to support global rules drafted through the UN’s Maritime Organization IMO and the UN labor organization, ILO.

In order to ensure that shipping can operate on equal terms, adopted regulations must in fact be implemented by IMO member states and practiced equally, across national borders.


  • The Norwegian fleet is the world’s fifth largest in terms of value, and is a world leader in many ship segments.
  • Norwegian shipping companies’ revenue from markets outside Norway amounted to approximately NOK 130 billion in 2021. This makes up 60 percent of total turnover in the industry for that year.
  • In 2022, growth in foreign markets of NOK 10 billion is expected, putting the foreign share of turnover for shipping companies at 61 percent. This clearly illustrates that the maritime industry is global.

The Norwegian authorities must oppose protectionism

It is crucial that the Norwegian authorities support the international legal order and multilateral governance systems at a time when globalization is increasingly being challenged by regional advances, national interests and protectionist forces. More than half of shipping companies report that they are negatively affected by global protectionism.

One important tool in the fight against protectionism is the use of free trade agreements. Such agreements ensure market access and create predictability.

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The EEA agreement is important for Norwegian competitiveness

The EEA agreement is Norway’s largest and most important free trade agreement, and European countries represent the maritime industry’s largest and most important trading partner. Uncertainty related to our most important market will hit Norwegian export-oriented businesses hard.

In the membership survey, the EEA agreement is named as important for all shipowning segments. This comes perhaps as no surprise, as Norwegian ship calls at ports in the EU amount to close to 40,000 a year, over 100 calls every single day. The agreement is particularly important for short sea shipowners, of whom 91 percent state that it is important or very important for their businesses.

An international threat scenario demands international preparedness

The Norwegian fleet represents a formidable emergency preparedness resource for the Norwegian authorities and our allies. International presence in the form of ships and the network of people is significant. With 1,800 ships worldwide at any given time, Norwegian shipping is also confronted with all the challenges and threats facing the world.

Member companies in the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association report that cybercrime is the biggest threat to their activities. The industry is working purposefully to improve security, including through the cyber security center NORMA Cyber. In order to be best equipped, there is a need for close cooperation with relevant state actors. At the same time, the business community can be invaluable controllers and competence partners for the authorities.

Geopolitical tensions and piracy also impact shipping. In 2021 alone, numerous Norwegian ships been exposed to threats and situations in different parts of the world. Several waters and ports in areas of armed conflict are challenging to world trade. Areas such as West Africa and the Middle East in particular are challenging for Norwegian and international shipping today.

The challenges are complicated and demanding, but through coordinated and strategic use of government instruments and international cooperation, the Norwegian authorities can contribute to increased security and stability.

Call to action:

  • The Norwegian authorities must work for harmonized global implementation and uniform practice of international rules
  • The authorities must counteract protectionist forces in foreign markets by, among other things, concluding free trade agreements
  • The authorities must support Norway’s most important free trade agreement, the EEA agreement, and good cooperation with EU institutions
  • A comprehensive national strategy is called for to improve the maritime security situation in vulnerable and prioritized regions
  • Piracy must be criminalized and prosecuted in coastal states in vulnerable regions
  • Arenas must be created where the industry and regional partners can meet to build trust and share information and experiences regarding the security situation
  • Stability in the Middle East and West Africa must be a priority, and military efforts that can de-escalate the security situation should be considered
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