Think of Denmark and most people will probably picture images of LEGO building blocks, bicycles and blonde people. For us Danes this is not a surprise as we admittedly are a tiny nation, with the population of Maryland that usually doesn't draw a lot of attention on the world scene. Due to this fact most people do not realize that Denmark is actually a superpower of the seas. Like Marvel's Antman we might have the stature of an ant, but we pack a massive punch in terms of global trade.
Danish ship owners operate more than 1,800 ships, which makes Denmark the 8th largest shipping nation in the world. Danish shipping companies are active in all segments - from dry bulk, oil tankers, offshore and containers. On top of this we are a world leader in maritime technology known for our innovative technological solutions, eco-efficient services and maritime safety equipment. This is why most large cargo ships today are equipped with Danish maritime technology, products or equipment. To give an example more than 70 pct. of two-stroke ship engines installed on vessels worldwide are designed in Denmark.
As around 80 percent of all trade in goods is transported by ship it is likely that you are surrounded by things, which has been transported by Danish ships without even knowing it. Maybe your phone came from Asia, your coffee from Africa and your desk might originate from Europe. The label might say "made in", but how did the product actually arrive in the store?
Most people almost never pause to consider the global supply chains that tightly weave the world economy together, which creates both business opportunities and delivers cheaper goods to consumers all around the world. Shipping is the backbone of world trade and offers the infrastructure that has created the modern economy. And tiny Denmark plays its part in this intricate and complicated system of world trade.
It is no accident Denmark ended up being a key player in the maritime industry. We are a seafaring and outward-looking nation eager to engage with new partners. And we provide high quality maritime technology products and solutions to shipyards and ship owners all over the world. It is also no coincidence that the relationship between the US and Denmark historically has been built on close maritime ties. During WWII Danish ship owners sent their ships into American waters so they could serve as part of the allied merchant fleet while Denmark was under occupation and the world at war.
Later the ships returned and shipping was integral to building the modern trading system, which is a core tenet of the transatlantic cooperation between US and Europe. In fact, the US is today the second most important market for the Danish shipping industry.
The US is also an important market for the Danish maritime technology industry and the market will become even more important in the future in light of the increased focus on environmental and climate friendly shipping. Danish maritime manufacturers are considered as global frontrunners in areas such as ballast water treatment systems and technologies that prevent air pollution from ships.
Denmark and other shipping nations might have helped provide the infrastructure, but it was US political leadership that set out to create a global economy where trade could flow freely across borders. This is something we should keep in mind today, especially as protectionism and anti-globalization have been returning topics in the debates during the US presidential election.
Both the US and its trading partners have benefited enormously from the integration of the world economy through trade liberalization. We fully acknowledge that there have also been costs, which are felt harder in some communities than other. But it is beyond doubt that free trade has brought enormous benefits and that increased levels of protectionism would be a grave mistake. Not just for a tiny maritime superpower but also for US businesses and consumers.
This article is part of a series of articles about the #RoyalVisitUSA. On September 27-30, a Danish business delegation, presided over by T.R.H. the Crown Prince Couple of Denmark, will be traveling to the U.S. for one of the most comprehensive trade missions from Denmark to date. The delegation represents 60 innovative Danish companies from the Healthcare, Agriculture and Food, Sustainability and Maritime sectors - all of which are leading economic sectors in Denmark. Joining the delegation are the Minister for the Environment and Food, the Minister for Business and Growth as well as five of Denmark's leading trade organizations. More than 650 Danish companies have subsidiaries in the U.S. These companies contribute to U.S. growth and job creation and employ more than 60,000 people nation-wide.