Challenges for maritime in a season of uncertainty

  • Published by Vedat

Although times are tough for the shipping industry, even in proportionately robust and resilient Asia, early thoughts and opinions of business leaders due to present at this April’s Sea Asia conference in Singapore are refreshingly positive.

Speaking in advance, they seek to confront challenges head on, reinvent outdated systems and processes, and investigate creative solutions rather than simply bemoan the state of the industry.

Mr Tan Chong Meng, Group CEO of PSA International, who will be chairing the session on The Asian Voice – Liner Shipping on the first day of the event (Tuesday 9 April), had this to say:

“The liner shipping industry is a key backbone of international commerce and is critical to the smooth flow of trade goods globally. The last few years have been tough going for the shipping lines in the face of anaemic economic growth and weak consumer sentiments around the world. Beyond looking at the immediate challenges of depressed freight rates, high bunkering costs and excess capacity, it would be interesting to also examine how changes in global trade patterns, liner consolidation, advances in technology and sustainability issues can potentially alter the face of the shipping industry in the medium and long term.”

With more than 14,000 industry professionals expected to participate, Sea Asia is set to witness its largest gathering yet. The conference, with its theme The Asian Voice in World Shipping, is a highlight.

Thomas Knudsen, CEO of Maersk Line, Asia Pacific Region, due to speak in the Liner session, said: “With this year’s challenging economic and industry outlook, it will certainly be interesting to hear how the industry is working to stay profitable despite the adverse market conditions, while also preparing for upcoming environmental legislations.”

Mr Knudsen will be joined in the Liner session by Kenneth Glenn, President, APL Co Ltd, S.S. Teo, Managing Director, Pacific International Lines (Pte) Limited, Andy Tung, Chief Executive Officer, Orient Overseas Container Line Limited, and Xu Li Rong, President, China Shipping (Group) Company.

The second session on The Asian Voice, devoted to Bulk Shipping, also drew advance comments from speakers.

Douglas Hsu, Chairman and CEO of Far Eastern Group, commented on the significance of fuel: “Overcapacity, rising fuel costs, onslaught of technology and environmental awareness are among the forces that are driving the shipping industry to reinvent itself. This tsunami of challenges demand an urgent need to transform the way the shipping business is done. Only by making radical changes can the industry survive and thrive in the new and increasingly volatile global economy.”

“For today’s ship owner, two of the bigger issues are China, and Fuel Efficiency,” said Per Wistoft, CEO of Brightoil Shipping, “and I look forward to meaningful discussions about both at Sea Asia.”

Mr Hsu and Mr Wistoft will be joined in the Bulk Shipping session by Kenneth Koo, Group Chairman & CEO of Tai Chong Steamship, and Andreas Sohmen-Pao, Chief Executive Officer, BW Group.

The middle day of Sea Asia, Wednesday 10 April, has been officially designated Offshore Marine Day.

Among the day’s content will be a panel of senior industry figures discussing matters such as China's investment in offshore exploration, the dynamic of offshore development in Asia Pacific and how regional activity will drive demand for fixed, floating and subsea units, the commercial climate for support providers, and other market outlooks. Among the panellists will be Paul Aston, Managing Partner at Holman Fenwick Willan, Y Y Chow, Chief Operating Officer at Keppel Offshore & Marine, and Lionel Lee, Managing Director of Ezra Holdings Ltd.

During Sea Asia’s technical day, Thursday 11 April, co-organised in association with SNAMES, ASMI, IMarEST and the Singapore Maritime Institute, technology at shipyards and the environmental challenges of green shipping will be in the spotlight.

“It’s very encouraging to hear such positive thoughts voiced in the lead-up to Sea Asia,” said Christopher Hayman, chairman of Seatrade, co-organisers of the event alongside the Singapore Maritime Foundation. “I’m sure Sea Asia’s conference will provide the industry with frank and objective criticism, though at the same time shine a light forwards, one that many will use to guide them not just in Asia, but globally.”

“This is a time for caution and for economy”, he agreed. “But simultaneously, we are seeing creative new approaches to business as firms accept the need to be more flexible and dynamic.” Mr Hayman said he was convinced this is why exhibition booking figures are at their highest and the number of international visitors is expected to smash that of the last edition in 2011.

Sea Asia is open for three days, 9-11 April 2013, at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.

Sea Asia is principally sponsored by Anglo Eastern, DNB Bank ASA, Executive Ship Management, Keppel Offshore & Marine, Lloyd’s Register, NOL Group, and PSA Corporation Limited.

Other sponsors include ABB Pte. Ltd, ABS, Admiralty, AXS Marine, Class NK, DNV Petroleum Services, DVB Bank, GAC Group, GL, Holman Fenwick Willan, Ideocean, Lukoil Marine Lubricants, M3 Marine Group Pte Ltd, Marshall Islands Registry, MTM Ship Management Pte Ltd, Pacific International Lines, RightShip, Siemens Pte Ltd, Singapore Telecommunications Ltd., Standard Chartered Bank, The Standard P&I Club, and Thome Group of Companies.

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