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Back Βρίσκεστε εδώ: ΑΡΧΙΚΗ Conference Conference 2018: The Global Impact of Shipping Πάνος Λασκαρίδης Πρόεδρος ECSA – The Global Impact of Shipping

Πάνος Λασκαρίδης Πρόεδρος ECSA – The Global Impact of Shipping

laskaridis tc

Ladies and Gentlemen, good evening. I would like to thank the organisers for allowing me to speak to you tonight and I will be as brief as I can. Straight at the beginning let me clarify that the ideas I will express tonight are strictly my own and do not necessarily, although to a big degree they do, but not necessarily reflect the views either of our Greek ship owners union and more of the European ships owner union of which I have the great honour of being the Chair.

Normally when we speak about the future and trying to predict the future this is a business for politicians or clairvoyant, these people who predict the stars.

It is not an ideal field for engineers or people who are dealing with the shipping business but I will try in a very brief outline to explain what is today in the minds of the various of European, but also worldwide, shipping bodies, and how do they see some of the things developing in the future.

 

Well, one of the big challenges, and I think this is not new, it is not unknown, it has been spoken about very much, is the everlasting problem of having international versus regional regulations.

Going forward, you know very well that there are international regulations mostly, if not exclusively decided and regulated by the

IMO, but we also have the unpleasant situations of having several regional regulations being also put in place and this is very unpleasant for shipping, it is an anathema for shipping, because if every region of the world imposes its own regulations, soon enough we will have such difficulty to comply with all these regulations that trade will become impossible.

You know, many of these very obvious examples OPA90 was the first one, the current balanced water management system is another one, the European MRV system is yet another one, the conundrum around the ship recycling issues is another one and of course lately of great importance the issue of how we are going forward in dealing with the Green House Gas Emissions.

So, international versus regional is the first big challenge going forward. Now, in Europe people think a little bit more globally if I may say so, in terms of trying to decide or discuss which are the challenges for shipping in the future, and I can tell you last year the European Commission, the Transport Commissioner called for a two-days closed seminar in Florence where about 20 people were invited.

Significantly, very few ship owners, I was lucky to be one of them, but out of the 20 about 10 came from the cluster, Mr. Korkidis, and the rest were officials from the Commission, somebody from EMSA and so on. But we had two days of very interesting and intense discussion and I will tell you briefly a few of the points which came out of this general unofficial, informal but very substantial and very substantive discussion.

Well, the first is obviously the issue of the environment. No need to tell many things about this. This is a very hot issue, it has several aspects, by far the most urgent today and the most talked-about today is the situation of dealing with the CO2 issue, the Green House Gases, but there are several ancillary issues you are all very well aware of the 20200.5 sulphur regulation.

This regulation is going to be initiated on the 1st of January 2020, there is no going back, but there are issues there to be dealt with between now and the implementation date, issues of availability, issues of safety, issues of stability, of the proposed fuels, issues of compliance and enforcement and other things and we have been trying to make this very clear to the regulators.

Another issue is the recycling of ships, another issue is the balanced water management system but the most important one on which there is a lot of work been done now, a lot of politics are at issue, are obviously the efforts to bring through the IMO and international regulation for the emission of CO2.

The industry is quite active in this. At least for Europe the general intention is to push ahead for ambitious targets, ambitious targets, but not unrealistic targets and not targets which start from dreaming or fairy-tales. It is the European policy to try to achieve the maximum influence through the ICS and through intervening at the subsequent EMPC conferences, the next one is coming out very shortly, and there not everyone sees eye to eye but the hope is that the IMO will be able soon enough to regulate on this matter.

Indeed, they set an ambitious target sequence between now and, say, 2050, or 2060, and this regulation ought to be welcomed by all countries, including Europe which is being difficult in the sense as wishing stricter and more ambitious targets.

So, this also relates to sub-issue, sub-issue but relating to the same problem which is the MRV alignment. As you know there is already an MRV system in Europe, an application, but the IMO is coming forward with its own data collection system and there the European establishment and political system says we will give you time until 2023 for IMO to employ an MRV system which we like, otherwise by 2023 Europe will reconsider its position and may act unilaterally to bring shipping into an ETS Commission trading system something which for shipping is an anathema.

The second larger issue going forward is trying to achieve what we call in Europe the single European window which is facilitating the procedures and the documentation and the systems throughout the entire transport chain from the shipper through to the ship, through to the port, through to the customs, through to the receiver.

Now, every country has its own documentation and clearing system, this is a nightmare and there are already some efforts by the European information, the simplification of procedures directives but this is not enough, we need a much larger, a much more comprehensive directive one day, which will unify and streamline all these different procedures both nationally, horizontally, but also vertically through the transportation chain. So, this is the so-called single European window.

The social agenda is also quite important for many countries. Clearly we have great interest in dealing with the problems of everyone who is a seafarer but also everyone who is closely connected with the shipping business, I am sure you all know the recent discussions about unmanned ships. Yes, unmanned ships will come one day, but in a very limited, I believe, application in our lifetime.

There are several issues there, safety, security. But above all, there is the concern that by driving away active seamen not only do we lose our seafarers but we also lose the people who eventually after completing the sea service will become the staff, the important staff or our shipping companies. So, this is a concern.

The next important concern going forward is digitalisation and what will happen with it in the future and alongside with digitalisation comes the concept which is very much in fashion today called disruption. Now, disruption is sort of shared as a new idea.

I think disruption you can say is what we used to call in the past thinking outside the box, but also actually doing something about it.

I thought, I used to think, that this was all rubbish. But I read a few weeks ago that Tom Enders, and the name may be familiar to you, he is the chief executive officer of Airbus for the last 15 or 20 years, a very important and respected man in business, he hired his chief engineer, his chief technological officer and ordered him to study the entire Airbus construction complex on the basis of disruption, that means going about changing everything, changing the way they think about things, they decide about things, they design things, they build things.

So, digitalisation is also a let’s say fashionable word but I am not particularly moved by this issue. You know, digitalisation has taken hold in every business ashore, it still lacks a little bit behind in the ships but I, my own simple technical view is that the reason why it lacks behind is because simply until today the speed of transfer data between ship and shore is very-very much smaller than is the case in every other business.

So, yes, we are catching up, we will catch up faster but it is not something that should appear as a new unknown problem in the shipping industry. It is catching up, most of us know this already, it is a little bit difficult to grasp for politicians who think it is something that came from the moon but it is one of the issues that is being discussed.

Finally, another important problem and this is very important for us, Greeks also, is the competitiveness of the shipping fleet, of the European shipping fleet talking in this particular instance, which as I say is one the main pillars of the way we think forward what will happen with the European fleet.

And this is particularly important for us because of course there are many different fleets, many different trades and many different kinds of businesses in Europe, but these other ones are businesses which in total constitute about 25% of the European shipping which are short-sea shipping, passenger shipping, roros and ferries and so on, but these are not going to go anywhere.

For them competitiveness means cost control and cost reduction. But their business is not going anywhere and these companies are not going anywhere anyway.

The fleet that is at risk of emigrating to other big shipping centres is the long-distance deep water blue fleet of Europe, the Tramp Fleet as we know it, i.e. entirely the type of fleet that the Greeks are engaged which constitutes about 75% of the entire European fleet.

This is important because obviously there are other shipping centres in the world which offer very attractive tramps and actually a study was commissioned about a year and a half ago by Deloitte and this study has been presented to the Commission, both the Commissioner for transport and the Commissioner for competition which basically says that Europe is not in a two-bed state but there are other centres which offer more and therefore we have to be alert to this and try to match what these other centres are offering so that we retain and if possibly grow the percentage of the European fleet as part of the world fleet.

You may think that this has only to do with how ships perform economically and financially but for Europe there is a much larger issue, and the issue is that this fleet has a very great strategic importance for Europe.

No one can think of Europe without its long-distance deep water fleet and if you see a map of Europe without nothing, it is like a lifeless dead body, but if you see the oceans of the world full of the thousands of European ships, then this is the blood that feeds Europe, and if this blood circulation is cut off, then Europe is destined to die.

And surely the worst thing that can happen is that one day Europe but also the rest of the Western world, the USA, Canada, and others, wake up and find out that their whole trade is performed by ships which are built, operated, managed out of and manned by far Eastern nations, namely those nations which are Europe’s and the Western world’s main trading competitors.

And last, and I am getting close to finish, the situation with what we call the level plain field on which the Europeans and especially the European cluster but not the shore cluster, mostly ports and terminals and other services are very much concerned seeing other nations, especially China, coming to Europe and buying ports and terminals whilst the opposite cannot happen in China at this point in time and this is causing a great concern here in Europe, because selling important European infrastructure to foreigners but without being able to invest reciprocally in their territories is not particularly liked.

And finally, a couple of fancy challenges and, you know, normally, when you go about your business every day in your office you don’t think about these things but from time to time you come to read about them and you wonder what is really meaning, what is really meant by these.

Maybe some of you have read a few days ago in the papers that Milsk which is this huge container company, is setting up a strategy group to study what will happen in 30 years, or 10, 15, 30 years from now, because they are terribly worried that what they do as a business is exactly the same thing that Amazon is doing for a business, expect Amazon’s packages are for the moment quite smaller than Milsk’s packages, but the business is the same, they move packages from one are to the other. So, they realise what happens if one day Amazon scales up the size of its packages and then they lose a big part of their business.

Another thing I read recently was a Dutch initiative, I believe it was Dutch, which says, well, why should charters charter a dedicated ship on a dedicated contract and do a dedicated chartering? Let’s do what they call the Umber of the ships. So, many ships go around, they do not have particular or fixed business, so anyone who has a cargo just calls them and makes a contact on the spot. And, you know, we may find these things funny, but believe me they will come one day and we better try to get ready for this.

And one last observation, perhaps connecting to the previous panel also whish was about the cluster, Vassili, the cluster in Greece has two things about it. One is positive and one is negative. The positive thing is that you are many and you are representing a lot of people, therefore you have a lot of votes which ship owners don’t.

The bad thing is that you are based ashore in Greece and you know that this is not a good thing. This is not a helpful thing. But anyway, make no mistake, I used to think exactly like I heard you speaking before until two years ago when I went to Europe and there we have a different situation.

When these people speak about shipping, they speak about the cluster, they don’t speak about ship owning. And I was, you know, deep inside me I didn’t like this but unfortunately I came to realise that the cluster is important in its own right, it is important because it attracts a lot of political attention, it attracts even more political attention because it represents businesses which is right at the front of the politician, they see it in the port, they see it in the key, they see it in the terminal, whilst they don’t see the VL, you know, running around the ocean. So, yes, we have to develop the cluster in Greece but we need an awful lot of work, and we are still very much behind. And let’s not kid ourselves, comparing the Greek cluster with Holland, or England or other places. We still have a lot of way to come.

Well, Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you very much. That is all I propose to say. If there are any questions, I will be happy to oblige.

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