IHS FAIRPLAY

Danish Maritime Days 2016

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Fairplay.IHS.com | October 2016 | 13 thantoGreekshippingbusinesseshopingtohear morediplomaticphrases.Tsiprasisnotlookingtokill offGreekshipping,andcouldn'tdoitifhetried,but shippingremainsamajorelementintheGreek economyandthisshouldsurelybeofficiallynoted. SowhereisallthisnewtechnologythatGreek shipownersareignoring?Posidoniawasnotatechnol- ogyshowlikeSMMinHamburg,norisitaneventthat showcasesleadershipinenergyefficiencyandenviron- mentalprotectionasNorShippingdoes.Thisisa networkingopportunitythatnowstretchesintotwo exhausting,andsomewhatoverwhelming,weeks.The partiesgolongintothenight,thecoffeeisstrong,the bonhomiesurpassesbothitsnorthEuropeancousins. PosidoniaisfirstandforemostagatheringofGreeks andthosewhoneedtodobusinesswithGreeks.Tryas wemight,journalistsarekeptawayfromtherealnews, althoughthereareoccasionalglimpsesofthestresses andstrainsoflifeintheHellenicmaritimebubble. South Korea's troubles have a direct bearing on Posidonia because Greek owners are among the very few who could offer business to an equally stressed nation. Owners looking to place orders for tankers would be warmly welcomed in Ulsan, but don't expect much business for Japanese bulk carrier shipyards or Singapore rig builders. The lack of new thinking at Posidonia only underlines the fact that traditional relationship-building is not as passé as Greeks would like to think. 'The Germans know as much about shipping as the Greeks know about the car industry' Nikolas Tsakos President and CEO, Tsakos Energy Shutterstock ↘ Greek shipping is not best known for its regular output of public relations messages. As a result, few observers of Hellenic maritime business really understand the chemistry that unites ancient families and island communities into a nation-state, and the anxiety Greek shipping feels when it is blamed by bankers, politicians, and journalists for bringing down one of the European Union's weaker economies. Greek shipowners' lack of transparency hasn't gone down well in Brussels, hardly a shrine to clear perception. And the Union of Greek Shipowners, which speaks for more than 500 shipowning entities has come out fighting. The association's veteran president, Theodore Veniamis, makes a valid case when pointing to the huge share of the EU budget allocated to the Common Agriculture Policy (championed by the French), to the backing of European manufacturing (led by the Germans), and to the arguments supporting the global financial hub of London (claimed by both the Remain and Leave camps in the UK). Why kick shipping when all governments have their favourite sectors? It's simple: as Cyprus transport minister Marios Demetriades told a gala dinner in Limassol in mid-May, even the senior representatives at DG Move (the EU's transport directorate-general) have little knowledge of how shipping works. Greece has spent 35 years keeping its maritime head low, claiming financial handouts while running the world's largest non-state-controlled fleet. For that reason, the UGS is hardly blameless for the perception in Brussels that Greek shipping has failed to fulfil its role within the national economy. So now Greek shipping needs to change its course. With troubles for its bulk carriers and its tankers, with competitors in Asia receiving subsidies unavailable to Greek owners, and with regulators calling for raised financial contributions, Veniamis believes Greek shipping is facing an existential crisis. His response is to warn that shipping can relocate to a welcoming maritime community in a matter of weeks. How realistic is this warning? The ties that bind the Greek shipping community to Greece itself are strong, and there are few reasonably-priced alternatives. The most effective way to defend Greek shipping from its foes, while retaining the sector at the heart of the community shipowners know and love, is through education. Greek shipping is vital to Europe's future; shipowners' commitment to the cause is undoubted; financial contributions to the nation's treasury have doubled. But Greek shipping must swiftly address is its reluctance to stand up and be counted. It's time for Greek shipping to be heard. Failure to grasp this opportunity could wreck Greece for decades. 'The most effective way to defend Greek shipping from its foes is through education' Greeks face FAIRPLAY Industry insight existential crisis

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