The shipping industry has shown great resilience in battling through the recent economic downturn, according to InterManager President Gerardo Borromeo. But he urged caution following a recent jump in new build tanker orders, stating: “We live in interesting and challenging times”.
In his New Year message to InterManager members, Mr Borromeo said: “As we have seen, even when we think we see the light of day, there remains a specter of uncertainty.
“In general though, we have managed through the most difficult parts of the economic crisis dating back to 2008, creating new ‘normals’ for all sectors and trades – from slow steaming to ‘battened down’ operating budgets, while continuing to keep an eye out for future trends in global economic cycles. It has not been easy, but the industry has shown great resilience throughout.
“The recent run up in VLCC rates seemed like the beginning of an upturn. However, a similar surge in new building orders for tankers is something that we should keep an eye on because of its potential impact on the cyclical nature of our business.
“These dynamic shifts in the industry reinforce the view that we live in interesting and challenging times.”
Notwithstanding the continuing challenges the industry faces, the InterManager President highlighted the importance of crew management skills in the ship management industry. “By all definitions, at their very core ship and crew managers are maritime human resource development managers and those that take this responsibility to heart will ultimately emerge to best serve our industry and the world’s economies,” he said.
Welcoming the introduction of the Maritime Labour Convention in 2013, Mr Borromeo said: “For InterManager, the coming into force of the MLC was both a welcome development and an important step towards enhancing working environments for our global maritime professionals, ensuring the continuity of important sea-service, and effectively encouraging the long-term retention of competent skills on board. After all, the heart and soul of shipping is our human talent.”
He added: “Interestingly enough, within the first weeks of implementation at least eight detentions were recorded. Will this ultimately assure all of the so-called level playing field, and will this Convention usher in a new era in seafarer’s overall productivity, as well as attracting future quality prospects into this important profession?”
InterManager members have pioneered the introduction of a Shipping KPI system, now overseen by the independent KPI Association. Mr Borromeo reported that the project was “breaking the ceiling in terms of the number of vessels involved in the shipping KPIs database”. As of the end of this 2013, the KPI database reached a total enrolled population of 2,265 ships and covering 47,566 seafarers.
Mr Borromeo said: “This sets a very keen trajectory for the database and sends a signal to industry that the information being generated by the members using this database is not only significant, but will also provide members who actively participate in using the metric tool, a chance to benchmark best practices in aid of their own game changing efforts to drive safer navigation and sustainable shipping across the board.”
Poignantly, Mr Borromeo, Chief Executive Office of the Manila-based Philippine Transmarine Carriers Inc, thanked the whole maritime industry for the help and support it has given his country in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.
He said: “We thank everyone in our industry for the tremendous outpouring of support that has been and continues to be shown each day. Without a doubt, Typhoon Haiyan changed the world for a significant swath of Central Philippines. Today, the casualty count continues to rise and is now over 6,000 with close to 2,000 still missing and unaccounted for.”
He continued: “What will carry this country and its people through to another year is the spirit of community, especially in adversity which has made all the difference. As an important stakeholder and seafaring capital of the world, the Philippines can reassure the world that its seafarers remain ready to deploy on schedule and will continue to serve in the best traditions of the Philippines and the Filipino people.”
Highlighting InterManager’s continued growth as an important shipping industry association, Mr Borromeo concluded: “We are now 105 members strong and growing. In fact, for the fourth year running, we are again up 10% from the previous year in terms of total members.”