Following recent business moves and cultural celebrations between Iceland and Maine, the two states have decided to bring their relationship to a more official level. Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, Iceland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Paul LePage, the Governor of Maine, signed a Memorandum of Understanding last week. This agreement officiates a relationship between the two states and expresses a desire for increased cooperation within the areas of environmental security, search and rescue operations, business development, transport, logistics and culture.
This move is no surprise; there have been increased relations between Maine and Iceland in recent years. Business between the two states has increased; Icelandic shipping company Eimskip recently moved its U.S. shipping hub from Virginia to Portland, Maine. In May, Iceland’s president Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson spoke at Maine International Trade Day about potentially opening up polar shipping lanes to make trade easier between Maine and Iceland.
Business is not the only trade bonding Maine and Iceland. There have also been increased cultural connections between the two states. SPACE Gallery in Portland, Maine celebrated Icelandic culture this past March with a series of events under the name Iceland Cometh. This included a concert called Reykjavik Calling, part of Iceland Naturally’s spring Taste of Iceland events, which featured Icelandic artists Retro Stefson, Sin Fang and Hermigervill.
Minister Sveinsson and Governor LePage believe expanding cooperations between Iceland and Maine will contribute to the increase of Iceland’s trade with North America. It is their hope that this Memorandum will strengthen trade in fisheries, logistics, transport and culture.