Growing protectionism major concern of Japanese shipping executives
THE leaders of Japan's three largest shipping companies - NYK, MOL and 'K' Line - have expressed concern about increased protectionism and the challenges involved in making shipping more environmentally friendly when speaking about the outlook for 2019 and beyond in their new year messages
THE leaders of Japan's three largest shipping companies - NYK, MOL and 'K' Line - have expressed concern about increased protectionism and the challenges involved in making shipping more environmentally friendly when speaking about the outlook for 2019 and beyond in their new year messages.
The three companies consolidated their container operations in 2017 to form Ocean Network Express (ONE), which began operation in April and is now the sixth-largest container shipping company in the world behind Maersk, MSC, Cosco/OOCL, CMA CGM and Hapag-Lloyd.
The president and CEO of MOL, Junichiro Ikeda, noted that in 2019, 'the external environment has become increasingly uncertain in terms of the global political and economic picture, mainly due to strained US-China relations and the possibility of a hard Brexit.'
President and CEO of 'K' Line, Eizo Murakami, said in 2018, 'although unstable conditions could be seen in some developing markets, the worldwide economy on a whole remained firm.
'On the other hand, the trend towards protectionism, which has arisen in recent years, has grown even stronger, in particular the development of 'America First' policies by the United States has had a major destabilising effect around the world.'
Mr Murakami said: 'On the trading front, the US renegotiated the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), saying it was unfair, and brought about trade friction by imposing extra customs duties on imports from China. Such actions have greatly upset the global economy, and there is great concern regarding the effect they will have on trade, which is the very foundation of our business.'
MOL's Mr Ikeda also highlighted the impact that new sulfur oxide (SOx) emissions regulations promulgated by the International Maritime Organization that will come into effect in January 2020, reports American Shipper.
'It is no exaggeration to say that the enforcement of these regulations will mark a major turning point that will have a crucial bearing on the success of the MOL Group as well as the marine transport industry as a whole. We have less than one year left to prepare. Operational concerns notwithstanding, we need to re-examine whether our preparations are adequate on the sales and marketing fronts and identify any hidden risks,' he said.
The president of NYK, Tadaaki Naito, highlighted 'digitalisation and green initiatives.'
He said that '2018 was a year in which advances were made in connecting our technology to business opportunities, such as the development of diagnostic software for the engine combustion chamber and a water-content alarm for the fuel oil in order to prevent mechanical failures. We had the first major updates in 25 years to the vessel safety management system. Consideration is being given to the commercialisation of an onboard cashless system.'
In November, NYK unveiled an environmental 'concept ship' called NYK Super Eco Ship 2050 that would be powered with hydrogen and solar power, be built with lightweight materials and incorporate technologies such as an air-lubricated hull, waste heat recovery, fuel cells and an innovate propulsion system that would replace conventional propellers with 'flapping foils that mimic the movement of dolphins to deliver greater efficiency.'
If that seems like a far-fetched goal, Mr Naito noted that the world is a very different place today than it was in 1989.
'In 30 years, it is possible we will live in a world that is hard to imagine today,' he said.