Will politics trump shipping?

Splash Opinion writers are selected for a variety of reasons, not least their ability to be divisive. Lengthy, angry reader comments on two columns written in the wake of the election of Donald Trump prove that as well as highlighting once again the incredibly bitter divisions that make up American politics in the 21st century. Nevertheless, I am the editor of a shipping title, not the New York Times, so unlike some of my peers I will not be filling up this site day in, day out with endless articles musing what Trump’s election means for maritime trade. Besides, as more sage minds than mine have observed it is way too early to make that call.

Investors in the US seem bullish – at the close of business yesterday, for instance, the Dow Jones US Marine Transportation Index had risen 6.54% since markets opened Wednesday morning.

Elsewhere, Maersk shares took a hit in the immediate aftermath of the election result and while clawing some ground back has yet to fully recover. The Danish giant tried to calm fears, issuing this statement: “It is too early to speculate about how the election result will impact our business. We hope that the US will uphold and enter into new trade agreements that promote economic growth at home and among trade partners.”

The fact is neither Trump nor Clinton was exactly pro-trade in the campaign – and this is a sentiment widely spreading among electorates across the world – and naturally worrying many a shipowner.

At the recently held Danish Maritime Forum the issue of protectionism was one of the hot topics where leading owners admitted future fleet needs might be considerably smaller than originally projected. The thoughts and deliberations from that debate were captured by artists at the forum – see below.


At the Maritime CEO Forum I was fortunate enough to moderate this March Trump formed a fair chunk of discussion. A favourite maxim of Navios’s Angeliki Frangou was aired at the shipowner gathering: “What’s bad for the world is good for the tanker market.” Let’s see if the Donald is bad first of all – or if much of his bluster gets reined in with the strictures of taking office.


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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