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Back Βρίσκεστε εδώ: ΑΡΧΙΚΗ Conference Conference 2018: The Global Impact of Shipping Alfred Hartmann's remarks at TheSeaNation Conference

Alfred Hartmann's remarks at TheSeaNation Conference

HARTMAN 655x823

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you very much for inviting me to your conference. Is has been an interesting day so far and we a lready discussed various challenges that our industry is facing today.Now, it is on us – the final panel – to detect the future of global shipping. If it was that simple...

You can only detect something that already exists and is simply hidden somewhere – maybe behind a curtain, in an email inbox on, or on the bottom of the Aegean Sea.

But the future does not exist yet. And it is impossible to forecast it for our industry. The reason is quite simple: Merchant shipping is a truly global business.

It is affected by so many different and interdepending factors, for example economic growth in different parts in the world, protectionist policies and tariffs, geopolitical tensions, cyber and real-life piracy, and – to an ever larger extent – technology.
25 years ago, there was no internet.

15 years ago, there was no smartphone. 5 years ago, almost nobody talked about Blockchain and 3D printing. The impact of these technologies could not be foreseen in advance.

Given the fact that it is impossible to predict and detect the future, it is very important to monitor global developments and trends that might have an impact on the business environment of shipping companies.

Let me highlight only three factors in the next minutes.

The first factor is populism and restrictive trade policies. After the fall of the Iron Curtain and the rise of emerging markets global trade grew substantially. Merchant shipping became the enabler of globalisation. More and larger vessels started to operate. The German merchant fleet alone doubled its number of vessels and increased gross tonnes sixfold within 15 years.

But within the recent years we had to realise that globalisation is not a law of nature. The election of President Trump and the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union are two recent examples showing that populist and protectionist policies can hamper globalisation – or even revers it.

A couple of months ago, the magazine “The Economist” analised how the Jones Act hurts American consumers and destroyed the country’s shipping industry in the recent decades. Today, maritime transport in the USA is so costly that cattle ranchers from Hawaii actually fly their animals to mainland America.

It is highly possible that the current skirmish about tariffs between the USA and Europe could harm not only our industry but also forestall economic growth.

A level playing field and free trade are of paramount importance for our industry. Here in Europe, Brexit might distort our markets. If the United Kingdom repeals specific EU regulation, EU shipping companies might suffer competitive disadvantages. Hence, Brexit is one more reason to focus on global regulation within international bodies such as IMO and ILO. Beyond that we need a stronger integration of markets to foster maritime trade.

Free and sustainable trade does not only create economic growth and wealth. Free trade policies help us overcome cultural boundaries and connect regions and people. It is high time for business leaders, especially in the maritime industry, to take a stronger stand for free trade and the benefits of globalisation.

The second factor that will affect our industry is climate change and corresponding policies to reduce CO2 emissions. As you all know, ocean-going ships already are the means of transport with by far the lowest discharge of CO2 today.

If we manage to shift more transportation from road to ships, this would be a key contribution to climate protection. There is a great deal of potential for this, especially in short-sea shipping.

In terms of regulation, maritime shipping has a pioneering function. With its mandatory efficiency regulations for newbuilds – the EEDI – it is the first international industry to implement binding reduction targets for discharge of greenhouse gases. Additional parameters are laid down for ship operation.

In a few weeks, IMO will decide on its climate strategy. VDR fully supports the ambitious goal to become CO2 neutral by the end of this century.


The crucial question is: how can our industry reach this goal? We need a technological revolution! We cannot cope with this challenge alone, especially since business environment is much tougher than in the past. Governments need to massively invest in research and development in the decades to come. Thus, Green shipping can become a driver for high-quality jobs and economic growth here in Europe.

The third factor that will shape the future of our industry is digitalisation. A couple of weeks ago, Lloyd’s List asked who is pulling the strings in container shipping.

One of the renowned managers and owners on the list is actually joining me here on the panel [FIY: Grimaldi]. But there was one man on the list who fell a bit out of line: Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon. His company does neither own nor operate a single vessel.

But Amazon has a strong influence on logistic providers to seek new economies of scale and impose technology-driven solutions in the global supply chain. And merchant shipping is an essential part of that supply chain.

The use of data will affect the shipping industry to an extent we cannot imagine today. In general, discovering the potentials of digitalisation maritime shipping has become a major issue for shipowners and managers. Digital technologies are a major opportunity to make ship operation even more efficient and safer as well as creating top-quality jobs.

More and more companies set up so-called “fleet operation centers” where data from every vessel under the company’s management is monitored, analised, and used to support the crews onboard, for example to find alternative routes, to support maintenance, or to assist in critical situations.

Using Big Data delivered by hundreds of sensors on board – such as on engine performance, GPS positioning and speed – shipping companies can deploy their vessels more efficiently, identify necessary repairs sooner, plan routes more intelligently and compare performance data.

Permanent data exchange between ships, terminals and shipping companies helps to optimise travel speeds and port calls, to spare resources and offer customers greater transparency.

And a final example: digital market-places for container transport, bunker fuels, service providers, shipyards, and many more, will increase price transparency and might erase the middleman in our people-driven business.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me close my remarks with a quote from Napoleon Bonaparte. The French Emperor turned down the British engineer Robert Fulton after he had presented plans for the world’s very first steamship. Napoleon is reported to have said: “What leads you to the assumption that a ship would sail against the wind and against the current if one only were to light a fire below deck? I don’t have time to listen to such nonsense.”

Well, within a few decades, steamships replaced conventional sailing vessels because they were faster, safer and more efficient.

I think, today, maritime shipping is in a comparable situation. After all, digitalisation will change maritime transport and the established business models – and a great deal faster than the steamship did.

We cannot predict the future, but we can embrace innovation instead of calling it “nonsense”. As long as our industry is able to identify important global developments – not only in technology – and align its strategy accordingly, I am confident that there is a bright future for merchant shipping ahead.

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