Danish Maritime Forum wraps with calls for greater unity

The Danish Maritime Forum (DMF) wrapped up this afternoon with plenty of earnest talk of finding new solutions to shipping’s many challenges.

The plenary session saw Claus Hemmingsen, chairman of Danish Shipowners’ Association, admit that the current outlook was bleak. He urged delegates to work more together, a rallying call he had made earlier in the week to Maritime CEO.

“There is a gap between regulators and the industry that is recognised on both sides, there is a gap between the public and us, there’s also a gap with technology,” he said, adding that there were huge gaps also between associations. He called for a common voice, and to get the various shipping associations better aligned.

Michael Parker, global head of shipping at Citi, was largely in agreement with Hemmingsen. He recalled how one of the mooted ideas from last year’s forum was the need for shipping to have an association like the International Air Transport Association (IATA), something he admitted might be a threat to the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS). This shipping version of IATA should be a “coalition of the willing”, Parker said, something that does not compete with other organisations.

With Danish Maritime Days and its centerpiece DMF securing funding for just three years, Parker suggested DMF could become the International Maritime Forum with the same secretariat, and could move around to other shipping centres when state funding finishes next year, but essentially act as the de facto maritime IATA.

Randy Chen, vice chairman of Taiwan’s Wan Hai Lines, noted how the industry all faced the same issues, so it made sense to seek solutions together too.

“There is tremendous comfort in that we all suffer in the same way,” he said, adding: “For our industry it is long overdue to take the challenges that are ahead of us and make something positive before action is taken on us.”

Quite so, agreed Hemmingsen, who is also a board member at Maersk and head of Maersk Oil. “If we don’t get along proactively… then we don’t like what we see with the outcome,” he said, stressing that the forthcoming United Nations climate conference in Paris next month could see shipping hit hard.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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