Largest ever Posidonia opens
Posidonia 2016, the world’s most prestigious shipping event, was inaugurated on Monday evening by the Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and attended by heads of states, European Union officials, Greek cabinet members, foreign maritime ministers, board members of the Union of Greek Shipowners, chairmen of international organisations as well as some 1,500 exhibitors and delegates from around the world.
The opening ceremony kicked-off the most anticipated biennial maritime event which has set a new record in size, as this year’s exhibition exceeds 40,000 sqm, and includes over 40 conferences, seminars and workshops, taking place at the Athens Metropolitan Expo over the next four days, till the curtain comes down on Friday, June 10.
Addressing the global audience, the Prime Minister Tsipras said that the Greek ocean going shipping contributes 7% of Greece’s gross national product, whilst providing significant direct and indirect employment opportunities. He said that the strength of Greek shipping has helped position the country at the centre of the changes and developments the global economy is undergoing.
Tsipras also stressed that Greece’s strategic geopolitical position coupled with the location of Greece’s big ports is a combination which guarantees the prospects of establishing the country as the commercial gateway to Europe for many products and services. He added that investments for the improvement of the existing infrastructure are essential and would provide Greece with yet another competitive advantage in the country’s road to recovery.
The Greek Minister of Shipping and Island Policy, Theodore Dritsas, noted: “During the past years, the shipping sector, one of the most globalised industries in the field of international trade, has faced great challenges. These are related to the excess tonnage, combined with short-term reduction in the demand side for transported cargo volumes, lack of funding from bank institutions, a sharp decline in vessel values, uncertainty in oil prices and acute competition. Inevitably, these factors led to a substantial downward pressure on freight rates, in particular in dry market segment. The gradual recovery of the world economy will certainly lead to the reduction and hopefully the phenomena.
“Despite the difficulties in both the national and global economic environment, Greek shipping managed to maintain its leading position at international level. More than 1,350 shipping companies are established in Greece, mainly in Piraeus, constituting the driving force for a number of related economic activities. Greek shipping remains a vital and successful generator of the national economy, contributing over 7% to national GDP, providing almost 200,000 jobs both at sea and ashore, covering also over 30% of the country’s trade deficit,” Dritsas continued.
The Secretary General of the International Maritime Organisation, Kitack Lim, said: “Shipping has a wonderful ability to tap into rich currents of innovation and excellence in key areas, from safety at sea, to clean shipping – and beyond. Events like Posidonia provide a valuable opportunity to showcase all that creativity and energy; an opportunity
those to mix, to mingle, to make friends and do business.”
Speaking at the inauguration event, Matej Zakonjsek, Head of Cabinet to the European Commissioner for Transport, said: “I am delighted to see the vitality of the sector in spite of the hardships – an impressive example of this is the Greek shipping community hosting this event. The potential of shipping to bring prosperity to Europe is strong, and so is our resolve to work together with all of you to overcome any stormy seas ahead.”
Echoing the voice of the Greek shipowners, Theodore Veniamis, President of the Union of Greek Shipowners, added: “The Greek shipowners and the Greek state, as representatives of a traditional maritime country, currently accounting for 50% of European shipping and 20% of the world fleet in terms of tonnage, have been strong supporters of the institutional role of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) as the only appropriate legislative body for shipping. The reason is one but very important: shipping as an international activity, fully exposed to international competition, requires a uniform enforceable legislative framework. The IMO has addressed successfully challenges over the years and has adopted international conventions which achieve the required balance between its member states.
“Even its critics acknowledge that the shipping industry is subject to a comprehensive legal framework ensuring safety of maritime transport and environmental protection. Especially nowadays, with the ongoing intense discussions on climate change and greenhouse gas emissions from shipping, the IMO is invited to take the leading role on the issue and defend the sector with efficient and long-lasting solutions. The priority for European legislators should be to form a shipping policy focused on maintaining the competitiveness of the shipping community. A policy that takes into account the international character of shipping and the necessary prerequisite to be competitive, hence, sustainable in order to continue operating smoothly to the benefit of the European economy, public welfare and world trade,” Veniamis continued.
On behalf of the organisers, Theodore Vokos, Executive Director, Posidonia Exhibitions S.A., said: “This is the biggest Posidonia in the event’s 46 year-long history as over 1,800 exhibitors from 89 countries are taking part. They represent all sectors of the industry, including over 200 shipyards, 19 national pavilions, over 80 ICT companies and dozens of ballast water treatment specialists, amongst others. We also expect to welcome some 20,000 visitors from all over the world confirming the reputation of Posidonia as the most important shipping event.”
“The growth of Posidonia is the result of the resilience of the Greek shipping industry which has managed to cope with the current challenging conditions and maintains its leadership position thanks to its entrepreneurial spirit and by continuously upgrading and reinventing its product,” Vokos added, during a press conference to mark the launch of the 25th edition of Posidonia.
Currently, the Greek-owned fleet’s average age is 11.2 years and comprises 4,585 ships, representing 19.63% of the global fleet in dwt.