South Korean President Lee Myung-bak is visiting Norway with an aim of establishing new shipping routes over the Arctic which might cut in half the current travelling times and upsurge trade exchange between Europe and Asia, Barents Observer informs.
More detailed political discussions are scheduled for today when the South Korean President will meet with Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg. Norway being a global leader in shipping industry can play a crucial role in establishing new routes and South Korea has recognized potential for cooperation in this respect.
“It takes about 30 days to go from South Korea to Europe by ship, but if Arctic routes are created, I think travel time will be halved. If that happens, economic exchanges between Europe and Asia will become very brisk. In particular, if Norway cooperates with us, Asian routes will be established, which will be very good for its future,” President Lee said to the new-agency Yonhap on his first day in Norway.
The visit comes amid rising concerns over melting of ice in the Arctic which has prompted increase of shipping in the area, affecting the most Norway and Russia.
Based on the preferences of dry-bulk carriers struggling on the market to offer the fastest services to their clients, navigating through the Arctic waters by taking the Northern Sea Route has become ever more prominent over the recent period.
Namely, shipping companies have found their way through a route that runs along the Russian coast from the island archipelago of Novaya Zemlya in the west to the Bering Strait in the east, thus reducing their voyage for almost 40 percent in comparison to the one which includes passing through the Panama or Suez canals.
As reported by Barents Observer, the number of vessels and amount of cargo shipped along the Northern Sea Route have gained speed for the season.
World Maritime News Staff, September 12, 2012; Image: Canada Gov