An opening address from Minister of Transport of the Russian Federation Maxim Sokolov welcomed visitors and fellow speakers who included senior officials from the International Maritime Organization, and government representatives from a German regional powerhouse and Europe’s largest port City of Rotterdam.
Mr Sokolov highlighted the event’s significance for shipping and transport, expressing the hope that NEVA 2017 would bring still closer cooperation between Russian and overseas interests. He was followed to the microphone by Igor Albin, Vice-Governor of St Petersburg, who welcomed visitors to a city assured of its position as a centre for maritime activities, also emphasising collaborative opportunities. Alexey Rakhmanov, President of the United Shipbuilding Company, drew attention to USC's role in modernising shipyards and in building new facilities and related technologies, also stressing the localisation benefits of cooperation with foreign partners.
Lawrence Barchue, Assistant Secretary General of the International Maritime Organization, stressed the UN Agency's lasting participation in NEVA. He also took the opportunity to reiterate the 'connecting ships, ports and people' theme of this year's IMO World Maritime Day, which takes place on September 28th, drawing attention to its relevance in the NEVA 2017 programme.
Heading a sizeable delegation from the Federal German State of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Prime Minister Manuela Schwesig introduced the government-funded 'Best of Northern Germany' initiative which has brought 13 regional exhibitors at NEVA 2017. She said that her government was committed to deepening economic connections with the Russian Federation, especially in the maritime industry.
Also joining the opening speakers was André Vervooren, Deputy Head of Administration of the City of Rotterdam, who cited over 300 years of close ties between his city and St Petersburg, before envisaging a deeper relationship ahead, based on mutual investments in innovation and sustainability. Significantly, Mr Vervooren identified shipbuilding as a key area for collaboration.