Wednesday, February 04, 2009
Wednesday, 04 February 2009
The dry bulk market should point to a recovery by the third quarter of the year, but only if the US economy manages to edge up by then, said outgoing (after six years of term) President of the Union of Greek Shipowners (UGS), Mr. Nikos Efthimiou. The Union will hold its elections today and by tomorrow the new leader of the country’s shipowning community is expected to make his first remarks. Stating perhaps the obvious Mr. Efthimiou commented on the crisis of the dry bulk shipping market by saying that it is “foreign” and an “imported” one. Nevertheless, the situation is very serious and the main problem derives from the lack of confidence between banks. “It will take some time before the crisis is over, but for the moment people still need sugar, corn and grains. What they don’t need that much is iron ore, coal and other raw materials” said Efthimiou.
He went on to strongly criticize ship brokers, mainly from abroad, who are releasing deeply devalued ship prices, “despite the fact that there is no reference from a relative transaction in the S&P market. Basing ship values merely on the ship’s revenues at any given time is criminal” said the President. These remarks weren’t random. The shipowners’ prime concern comes from the fact that many banks – not so much the Greek ones – with shipping portfolios could seize vessels and auction them, in a bid to cover part of their losses from the fact that ship values appear to be very lower than the ones when any given loan was signed (with the ship acting as mortgage).
Commenting on the government’s efforts to increase the competitiveness of the Hellenic Registry, Mr. Efthimiou said that during these two years a total of 170 modern vessels joined the registry, a sign that the whole process was successful. “In fact, it would be even more successful if we had the proper manpower to man the vessels” said the President.
Regarding the global issue of emissions from ships, he stood by the notion of a global solution to the issue, realistic and applicable. “We’re not against a levy on bunker fuels, which would end up in a global fund for the environment. But, a trading emissions scheme is purely inapplicable in the shipping industry. Already, emissions from shipping are less than 2008, due to a slow down of global trade. Nevertheless, shipping is responsible for a mere 2.7 percent of the global emissions, based on 2007. Shipping is just an easy target, that’s all” said Mr. Efthimiou.