The incoming head of the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) has a stark warning for bureaucrats in Brussels – support shipping or watch the industry die.
ECSA’s president-elect Panos Laskaridis uses the Maritime CEO platform today to call for help. European flags and the regional shipping industry need specific measures from Brussels, he says, in order to keep the maritime cluster alive and to avoid a similar fate to the continent’s shipbuilders, who have seen their businesses usurped by Asian upstarts.
The seasoned Greek shipowner believes that keeping a strong local fleet is in the interests not only of the European countries and economies but also in the US and Canada since, he says, “they don’t want to wake up one day and find that their products are carried by ships which have been built, operated, owned and manned by their main commercial competitors – the Chinese and Japanese – who are competing with them on every side of business”.
The ECSA board of directors gathers together the directors of its 21 national member associations and has authority to take decisions on all relevant issues within the shipping sector. Talking about the present political scenario Laskaridis says that shipowners have to regain the initiative on the agenda of shipping issues.
“I’m saying this because in Europe, and in the world, the stakeholders – politicians, regulators, the EU parliament, ministers and so on – when they speak about shipping they mainly mean what we shipowners understand under the shipping cluster. I don’t particularly like thinking of us shipowners just as a small link in the chain; I think we should think in terms of the shipowning business as the solid foundation from which everything has built up.” He also stresses the importance of distinguishing among different ship types in trading when it comes to discussing the competitiveness of the European fleet and what it means for different shipping segments.
Another very important distinction to be done is between international and regional regulations, according to Laskaridis.
“We stand squarely on the side of the internationally accepted regulations,” he states, before adding: “Unfortunately this is not happening in all aspects today. There are examples both in Europe but also on the other side of the Atlantic where local governments and local interests produce regional legislation and only after the event we have seen the bad effects of these regional regulations we try to find international solutions.”