Eimskip, an Icelandic shipping company whose North American headquarters are located in Portland, recently invited Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, Iceland’s president, to Maine. The purpose of his visit was to address attendees at the Maine International Trade Day, a one-day conference put on each year by the Maine International Trade Center, about exciting new possibilities with regards to shipping routes.
According to an article in the Bangor Daily News, Grimsson spoke about the fact that due to the recession of the polar ice over the past few years, trade through the Northern Sea route (otherwise known as the Northeast Passage) has now been opened up. The ice in the Arctic Ocean has receded to the point where northern shipping routes can be used to reach Asia from the North Atlantic.
During the conference, which boasted a record number of attendees at 352 people, Grimsson showed an image of the world, from the perspective of looking down at the North Pole. This image made Maine, Atlantic Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Scandinavia, Russia, and Alaska all look like neighbors. Grimsson’s intention in showing this was to highlight that Iceland and Maine now have the unique opportunity to become major hubs for this new Northern Sea route that is emerging.
The Northern Sea route, traveling through the Arctic Ocean from the eastern United States to Asia, is said to be 40 percent shorter than other traditional trade routes such as the route through the Mediterranean Sea and the Suez Canal.
Eimskip’s headquarters are already located in Portland, giving ample reason to select Maine and Portland as the location for the Northern American logistical hub of this new trade route.
Grimsson concluded his talk by receiving a standing ovation from the crowd as well as praise from Perry Newman, president of Atlantica Group LLC. While Maine is a great location for this hub, it is not a shut-case as there is still a lot of work to be done before this vision of Grimsson’s can become a reality.