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Dominating the liner industry in 2020 and the next session here at TOC Americas will be the imminent International Maritime Organization (IMO) 2020 cap on sulphur content in ship fuels, new emissions reporting and reduction targets. The IMO 2020 regulations take effect only 2 months from TOC Americas and presents an intimidating challenging that will have ripple effects across the whole of the shipping industry as carriers will find themselves having to take on (and look to pass on) an anticipated $15 billion increase in industry annual costs. Every single actor in the supply chain will be aware of this and eager to avoid these costs being passed onto them. This combined with the ongoing decarbonisation and energy efficiency efforts worldwide will have a huge impact on shipping, cargo owners, port operators and the whole supply chain.
A small growth in fleet capacity suggests that significant revenues increases are unlikely to be seen this year which will continue to wield financial pressure on freight rates. Although there were a couple of exceptions on eastbound trans-pacific trade lanes where we saw performance soar – this unfortunately can be traced back to shippers and manufactures amassing materials before the tariffs took effect. After more consolidation over the previous 3 years than were seen in the preceding 20 years, the continued fallout from shipping mergers and alliances, big ships and assorted initiatives to manage maritime economies of scale and boost revenues also comes under further scrutiny.
Global economic expansion, and particularly trade growth, have fared better than anticipated over the last 12 months in both advanced and emerging markets and this is echoed in healthier port volumes across the region and worldwide. This is welcome news for the industry especially considering the continued challenges that continue to be exerted in the wake of fundamental changes to American, Chinese and European protectionist trade policies, the altering of established trade pacts and the ongoing trade war between the world’s two leading economies showing no signs of abating. Reducing barriers within the international supply chain could increase global trade by approximately 15% and provide a much-needed boost to economies and create jobs.
With an astounding $14.2 trillion of new global wealth to be realised through Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies by 2022, according to the World Economic Forum, now is the time for industry members to join up and develop comprehensive innovation strategies which will enable information to flow much more seamlessly between the many different players and actors who make up today’s often lengthy, opaque and fragmented supply chains. Digital platforms are widely viewed as the cornerstone of the next phase, combining disparate data flows on a massive scale. But concerns have been raised about how to manage the proliferation of new platforms without simply creating new competing data silos, with recent calls and initiatives for more standards and protocols to facilitate open interfaces and information interchange between multiple platforms and enterprise systems. Governments and industry now need to work together to create frameworks that can unlock the value of digital while safeguarding data privacy, ownership and security.