Maritime Issues Returning to Foreground of Economic and Geostrategic Concerns
In a context of globalisation of trade, budget austerity and exhaustion of energy resources, maritime issues are returning to the foreground of economic and geostrategic concerns.
Benefiting from the richness of its maritime space, France has a trump card to play, and the defence shipbuilding industry is at the heart of its reindustrialisation strategy.
As a consequence of growth in shipping flows and shortages of resources on land, the oceans are more than ever a major factor in power and growth. The figures speak for themselves: 90% of merchandise is transported by sea and 50,000 merchant ships sail the oceans each year. Half of international communications pass through undersea cables, and 1.6 billion persons travel by passenger ship each year, equivalent to the number of air passengers.
The oceans crystallise all the challenges that must be faced by nations over the coming decades in terms of resources, energy, living space and biodiversity. The oceans cover more than 70% of the planet, and two-thirds of its population live less than 200 km from the coast. The sea is a vital source of energy, food, chemicals, minerals and other resources. The oceans cover 90% of hydrocarbon reserves and 84% of mineral and rare earth metal reserves.
A space to be secured
In this context, the new prospects opened up by the maritime world are potential sources of tension. The intensification and the globalisation of seaborne trade entail growing threats related to piracy and illegal trafficking, and resources in demand, such as fishing areas or rare earth metal deposits, are the trigger points of new conflicts. This is the case, for example, of the Senkaku Islands, in the East China Sea, which are at the origin of major tensions between several countries of the region, including China and Japan, because of deposits of manganese, cobalt, lithium and other metals that have been found there. It is also the case in the Gulf of Gascony, with tensions related to the delimitation of the French and Spanish fishing areas.
Consequently, exploitation of the valuable resources offered by the oceans is inconceivable without necessary securing of the maritime spaces. In France, how can the exploitation of French Guiana’s offshore oil resources, a tremendous source of revenue for the country, be considered without securing the maritime area?
France: a maritime card to be played
With a maritime space of 11 million square km – the second largest in the world after the United States – France possesses an incredible resource, which should be protected.
Securing the oceans is a military and diplomatic necessity, but also an economic opportunity. Defence shipbuilding is an industry generating employment and growth, at the heart of France’s reindustrialisation strategy. DCNS alone now employs more than 13,000 personnel and supports a high added-value industrial fabric. It is also an international player exporting unrivalled know-how and high-technology products, contributing to the dynamism of a strong export industry, ranking third in the world and leader in Europe.
France, with the United States, is one of the only two countries to possess all the specific competencies and technologies covering all naval requirements, from the aircraft carrier to the submarine. DCNS has been able to put this unrivalled expertise to good use in identifying synergies with civil applications. The Group is applying its knowledge of the maritime domain and the management of complex projects to its work on renewable marine energy, and intends to become one of the world leaders in a market offering attractive growth prospects. The development of DCNS finds its source in the deep waters of blue growth. It is based on the strength of a conviction, at the origin of each of its strategic priorities: the sea is the future of the planet.
Press Release, September 27, 2013