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  • A strong and growing maritime nation offers opportunities for innovations from Norway

    As Norway, Germany is a strong maritime nation and offers several opportunities for Norwegian maritime companies and suppliers. The following information is based on the strategic paper "Maritime Agenda 2025 - The future of Germany as a maritime industry hub", published by the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy.

    As an outward-looking industrialized country with no resource base of its own, Germany relies on import and export of goods, raw materials and semi-processed and processed goods. The majority of these goods is transported by sea. The marine environment, however, is much more than a mode of transport. The German Federal Government recognizes the manifold importance of the ocean and infers from this the need for a maritime agenda to strengthen the German competitiveness of the maritime industry whilst giving equal consideration to the goals of economic growth, high employment potential and stringent environmental and nature conservation requirements. An efficient maritime industry forms the basis for Germany’s role as a leading export country. This opens up for cooperation between countries at different levels such as innovation, R&D, technology implementation and actual use cases.

    At the same time, the maritime industry faces tough international competition. German shipyards compete internationally with state-funded companies that distort fair competition for shipbuilding contracts. German shipping companies are also experiencing growing competitive pressure, which is exacerbated by severe excess capacity in the transport sector and low charter rates and freight rates. Also facing stiff international competition are the German ports. Despite these difficult circumstances, German companies strive to secure the top spot in the international market in shipbuilding, shipbuilding supply, offshore technology, marine engineering and port industries.

    Since the German maritime industry is mainly operated by the private sector, it was able to react quicker than its competitors to changes in the market. Improvement of the efficiency of ports and logistics, as well as renowned research and training facilities, is important to secure the success of the maritime industry in Germany. As industry becomes increasingly digitalized, the sector will have to make its production, logistics and governance processes quicker, more efficient and more sustainable if it is to withstand the growing pressure of international competition in the future.

    The maritime industry is one of the most important sectors of the German economy. Estimates place the annual turnover at up to EUR 50 billion and the number of jobs, directly or indirectly dependent on the maritime industry, at up to 400 000.

    The sector is not just limited to the key sites on the North Sea and the Baltic Sea coasts. The maritime supply chain is located all over Germany: supply companies are based in all regions of the country, in particular in Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia. The sea and inland ports are connected to the hinterlands by modern and efficient transport infrastructure. They are key hubs of European and international trade and attractive locations for the manufacturing industry and service providers.

    Promotion of foreign trade, investment and funding schemes
    Tapping into foreign markets is essential for the long-term success of the export-oriented maritime industry. However, particularly small and medium-sized companies may struggle with starting operations in international markets. Next to additional political backing in Germany, bilateral agreements can support the industry and the innovation process. Similar to Innovation Norway, the Federal Government supports companies in facing the challenge of entering and securing business in local and foreign markets.

    International competitiveness - Bilateral cooperation might be a solution
    Maritime markets are global markets: more than 90 percent of the annual turnover made by German shipyards is generated in international business. The export ratio of the German shipbuilding supply industry is approximately 75 percent, making Germany a world export leader in this field. The German merchant fleet is ranked fourth amongst the global merchant fleets; based on owner nationality, the German container ship fleet is even ranked first by international comparison. The German seaports and inland ports are amongst the best terminals in the world. However, these are in competition with terminal operators from, for instance, China, Singapore and the Middle East.

    By international comparison, the German maritime sector is dominated by medium-sized companies. Germany’s activities within oil and gas exploration are limited (except for Wintershall); German companies do not currently operate as system integrators in the fields of offshore oil and gas, and there are few pilot projects within deep-sea mining. It is therefore essential that the German maritime industry enhances its international networking, is present at leading international trade fairs, but also that further harmonisation of international standardisation processes takes place in order to open up new export markets and business cases. All this presents business opportunities for Norwegian partners within the maritime sector.

    IN Germany (Hamburg and Munich) has contacts to several maritime companies, enjoys the well-established cooperation with Ocean and Industry clusters and can advise accordingly. For more information, please contact our expert:

    Tim Genge
    Senior Adviser
    Innovation Norway, Germany



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