Regulators vs. Industry
This year’s “Maritime Cyprus” opened at the Evagoras Lanitis Centre on Monday, aptly titled “Yesterday’s World, Tomorrow’s Today”, where President Nicos Anastasiades highlighted the important role shipping plays in the recovery of the Cyprus economy and promotion of the island in general.
Cyprus has established itself as a respectful maritime flag and as a base for international shipping operations, offering a favourable regime for foreign investors, he said, adding that Cyprus is one of the fastest growing economies of the European Union whereas foreign direct investment has significantly increased.
The president said that the shipping sector has been catalytic to the recovery of the economy which is why the government has declared that it will establish an independent Deputy Ministry for Shipping, a long-standing demand of all stakeholders. The new Deputy Ministry will start from March 1, 2018, replacing the Department of Merchant Shipping, presently a division of the Ministry of Transport and Communications.
The conference discussions started on Monday with “Future Shipping Strategy: Regulators vs. Industry”, moderated by Transport Minister Marios Demetriades.
The keynote addresses were delivered by Kitack Lim, Secretary General of the International Maritime Organisation and Magda Kopczynska, Director of DG Move of the European Commission, on behalf of Violeta Bulc, Commissioner for Transport of the European Commission. Lim and Kopczynska participated in the panel discussion together with Esben Poulsson, Chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping and Niels Smedegaard, President of the European Community Shipowners’ Association.
Views were aired on the future challenges for commercial shipping, with the importance of intensifying cooperation between all players in the maritime sector, ensuring a level playing field, and preparing today the shipping of tomorrow.
All panellists agreed that they do not see there is as a question of “regulators versus industry”. There is a long and successful history of regulators and industry working together to achieve common, shared objectives; objectives which, if achieved, will have a beneficial and positive effect not just on the industry but far beyond. It was stressed that the regulators need to be more proactive and the speed of adapting to technological developments should increase.
One of the main challenges identified was the decarbonisation of the maritime sector. Particular reference was made to the ambitious efforts made jointly by the regulators and the shipping industry to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Views were exchanged on the discussions currently underway at the IMO regarding the development of a global strategy that will set the percentage by which the sector’s total carbon dioxide emissions should decrease. It was mentioned since shipping is a global issue, the IMO remains the most appropriate forum.
Among the points raised was that future shipping legislation should establish requirements for the use of technology that is already effectively available to the industry and not within laboratories. An environmentally sustainable industry also needs to be economically sustainable. The need for the development of alternative fuels and new propulsion systems in order to potentially lead to a zero carbon future was also expressed.
The industry’s commitment to a low carbon future was noted as well as its desire for an even better approach to maritime legislation, building upon the comprehensive global framework already provided by the IMO.
Another challenge referred to was digitalisation. It was noted that the automation of shipping is already becoming a reality and will accelerate in the years to come with the advantage of enhancing navigational safety and making operations more efficient. It was further noted that the challenge of cybersecurity also needs to be planned today.
The panellists analysed the fact that although the demand for oil is changing due to the shift to renewable sources of clean energy, the need for transporting crude oil and oil products with tanker vessels will not extinct and this is highly unrealistic, at least not for the next 25 years which is the life span of the tankers built.
It was mentioned that it is not possible that the world will no longer need crude oil and clean products or that oil will be able to be transported from source to consumption without using tanker vessels. The West may pursue more enthusiastically the move to renewable energy but the demand for oil will increase in Asia, Africa and other emerging economies of the world. It was noted that routes and trades may change dramatically going forward and the tanker fleet size may need to be adjusted to fit changes in demand.
The i mportance of the environment protection was stressed but so was the need to fulfil the basic economic needs in the emerging economies of the developing countries. The panellists concluded that tanker owners are vulnerable but certainly do not constitute an endangered species. They noted that they anticipate an improvement in the market. Maintaining a balance between supply and demand is essential for ensuring a bright future for tanker owners.