Monday, October 18, 2010

Oversupply of ships to be resolved

THE oversupply of ships in the maritime industry is expected to be resolved within two years as economic recovery boosts global trading activities, Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri said.

He said that shipping companies worldwide had suffered severe losses over the last two years, with many in financial ruins as markets plummeted. More than a thousand ships were left idle or mothballed in numbers never seen in the history of shipping.

"Shipping companies in Asia suffered heavily, and I am painfully aware that some in Malaysia were hit just as bad.

"Mercifully, the industry has found its footing again. Based on the trends and signs I am seeing, I'm optimistic that the issues with oversupply (of ships) will be resolved within two years."

Abdul Rahim said that 95 per cent of global trade relied on shipping currently. Hence, as the economies in Asia continue to grow, demand for shipping services will increase, as will also demand for ports and logistic services.

Abdul Rahim was speaking to reporters after opening the 6th Asia Maritime & Logistics Conference and Exhibition 2010 in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

He said Asia was expected to lead the way in recovery of the world shipping industry. Some of the biggest lines are Asian-owned, or, if foreign-owned, operating extensively in the Asian market.

The world's leading shipbuilders, such as South Korea, China and Japan, are in Asia. Seven out of the 10 leading ports in the world are also in the region.

"Six of the most connected liner ports in the world are in Asia," Abdul Rahim added.

He said the shipping industry was proposing that the government offers some funding support for the industry to help the shipowners recover and take advantage of the economic rebound.

"However, I am not sure if any goodies will be given to the shipping industry. The decision will be made after the assessments by the economic council," he said.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Shipowners' Association chairman Nordin Mat Yusoff, in his opening address, said that the new focus was expected to shift towards keeping the seas and environment clean.

"There is expected to be new pressure on shipowners over maritime carbon emission with the recent progress made by the International Maritime Organisation in developing measures to improve the energy efficiency of ships, in order to reduce greenhouse gas emission from international shipping," he said.

Nordin added that the shipping industry, which accounts for 2.7 per cent of total carbon emission, might have to look at steaming slowly to address the emission problem, especially since it has been estimated that a four-knot reduction in sailing speed could reduce daily emissions by nearly 40 per cent.

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