State visit to Finland: Opening of business seminar
Distinguished friends and guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you for your kind words of welcome!
Norway and Finland are both experiencing high economic growth, and the outlook for the coming years is positive. The Global Competitiveness Report a ranking of world competitiveness indicates that we are both doing well. In Norway we are proud to have improved our position from 17th place in 2005 to 12th place in 2006. But we still have some way to go before we reach the level in your country. Finland is namely currently ranked in 2nd place.
Norway is a small, open economy - dependent on international trade. So is Finland, I believe. In todays global economy, our businesses cannot compete with the low wages in other countries. Therefore both Norwegian and Finnish companies have to find new ways of being competitive. We have to work more smartly and more efficiently than our competitors. My impression is that you are indeed successful in meeting this challenge, and continue to develop high-quality products and services based on cutting-edge knowledge.
Finlands successful shift towards a knowledge-based economy has become a shining example for the rest of Europe. The fact that you are among the world leaders in the use of ICT has undoubtedly contributed to your success. Your achievements within this field, with Nokia at the forefront, continue today. It is therefore fitting that ICT is one of the two main themes of todays seminar. And in the home country of Eero Saarinen and Alvar Aalto, the second theme of todays seminar is a given: Design!
No nation can rely on its own assets alone. We have to exchange knowledge and work together. Through cooperation, Norwegian and Finnish businesses are better equipped to meet the challenges of today, and grasp the opportunities of tomorrow.
The value of people-to-people contact for our bilateral relations can never be underestimated. I therefore wish you all the best for the todays discussions and your future challenges.
As a modern historian, E.H. Carr, once remarked: Change is certain; - Progress is not.
I wish you progress and a successful day.