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Fickle geopolitics shadow shipping

Americas Awards judges warn of outside influence on global shipping industry

REGULATORY initiatives and geopolitics will define much of shipping’s future over the next year, according to judges for the Lloyd’s List Americas Awards, to be held in Houston on May 23.

The independent judging panel, from North and Latin America and the Caribbean, which is broadly optimistic about the 2018 industry outlook, nonetheless warned that no one hemisphere can operate without reference to developments at the international level.

Chamber of Shipping of America president and chief executive Kathy Metcalf said: “I am hoping the most positive development will be continuing the pro-active efforts of the global industry to contribute to future regulatory initiatives both at IMO and US federal level.

“That includes environmental issues addressing the global greenhouse gas contributions from shipping and the way forward to reduce these emissions, rational and practical approaches to the upcoming 2020 global sulphur cap, commercial shipping noise and its impacts on living marine resources, and mitigation of ship strikes of whales by large commercial ships.

“Safety related issues which fall into this general category include autonomous ships (in whole or in part), technology developments in electronic navigation and interface with other shipboard systems and cybersecurity,” said Ms Metcalf, whose views were broadly echoed by fellow judges.

Shipping Federation of Canada president Michael Broad warned legislators not to push the green agenda beyond practical limits.

“Although the Shipping Federation strongly supports the [Canadian] government’s environmental commitments, it is essential that decisions related to marine transportation are evidence based and reflective of the industry’s strong safety record in Canadian waters,” he said.

“Equally important is the need to ensure that specific measures to mitigate the impact of shipping activity achieve a workable balance between the government’s conservation objectives and the realities of marine transportation.”

Fellow Canadian judge Kaity Arsoniadis-Stein, executive director of the Vancouver International Maritime Centre, sounded a broader 2018 note of caution about geopolitical shifts.

“World trade could face a setback if protectionist tendencies increase, which include both Brexit but even more so the US decisions to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement and to reassess the terms of its other existing trade agreements. The new US tax regime also favours companies producing in the US.

“Lack of political harmony regarding relations between the US, Russia and China does not stimulate increased trade between these nations.

“There are also a number of other areas with political tension that could disrupt trade the Middle East.

“Shipping is a cyclical, volatile and capital intensive in addition to being a high-risk business and will naturally seek to locate its administration in a predictable politically stable environment,” Ms Arsoniadis-Stein said.

Judges will will be looking for entries that demonstrate excellence, innovation and role modelling in an industry trying to keep pace with change occurring at unparalleled speed.

This year’s Lloyd’s List Americas Awards includes five new categories, to reflect emerging challenges for the shipping industry. They are: Best Fuel Solution, Best Technology for Cleaner Emissions, the Cyber Security Innovation Award, Cruise Safety Innovation and Port Infrastructure Development of the Year.

The deadline for entries in all categories is February 16.

The BBC’s Americas-based Nick Bryant, a veteran international correspondent, will host the awards at Houston’s Four Seasons Hotel.

A full list of categories, how to enter and how to book tables is available here.

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