Week #13 | 28 March 2019
It’s week thirteen and Thursday, so you know what that means. I am currently in Asia and still got a few days in Bangkok before I return to the cold north in Stockholm, Sweden. I visited Hong Kong and most recently Shanghai, where I attended the Breakbulk expo (see photos here). The event was good, although noticeably smaller than previous Breakbulk Asia events. Several shipowners seem to have saved the costs by having their own booths and focusing mainly on being present at the Breakbulk expo in Bremen that will take place in May.
In my view, one can never meet enough people in our business, but on the other hand if there are too many expos then you just end up mainly meeting those whom you already know well. Whilst it is important to keep your contacts, you also need fresh air, even in your business relationships. How are you to learn anything new otherwise? It seems that the Bremen expo will be huge this year and let’s hope that the air conditioning works during the event, as last year there was a glitch during one of the days that happened to be one of the hottest days in Bremen. Sweaty shipping people, many of them in suits and ties, are not necessarily a pretty sight, but naturally there was help in the form of cold drinks, potentially enabling the Bremen BNP to increase by several percent.
As mentioned, I am right now in Bangkok, Thailand and it is always a nice place to visit. It’s the land of smiles indeed, not to mention excellent, affordable and quality food, reasonably priced body massages for tired feet (for example) and overall good shopping. Bangkok has become more popular in recent months and several more condo blocks are shooting up with many investments made by mainland Chinese people, keen to have a place outside their home country. As for China, there is no doubt that the Chinese president, who could now very well be president for life, is tightening the screws and control of both country and people.
You’re all welcome to speak to me on both expo days in Bremen between 13:00-14:00 at the Hoegh Autoliners booth. I am open to talking with anyone and am more than willing to support and interview anybody wishing to make a contribution to the world of shipping that many of us love, but that even more people don’t understand. Many of those people in power whose rules we are forced to adhere to lack knowhow about what the shipping world entails, as well as how wide-reaching and vital it is to the global economy. On another note, I am sure that you all remember the TV series, Sex and the City. Well, now there’s a new spectacular series/soap opera about Brexit coming up. It’s called Brussels and the City and will star many interesting characters.
Business this week is also interesting.
First of all, we visit Iran, a country whose strategic location in the Middle East, between East/West and Central Asia, is second to none. Iran has many very clever people and, come to think of it, in many ways it’s a country with a long history of trade. Although sanctions are in place, they cannot last forever and sooner or later this mainly young population will impact many around the world. We speak to a local project freight forwarder there and next we pay a visit to the land of The Pampas and great steaks. Yes, you’ve guessed it right, its Argentina. The country is on the up again after a few messy years caused by incompetent politicians, but it is indeed well worth a visit. After speaking to our expert there, we visit Belgium, the country famous for arguably the best French food and speak to a freight forwarder with offices in Africa. Of course, when it comes to Africa, trusting your forwarder is paramount. Finally, we bring you a bit of shipping news as the weather has created havoc in several places and, besides our trade intelligence that you may find interesting, we provide you with Wise Words to round off our newsletter.
Until next time,
Can you tell us more about your company, Pishbar, and elaborate a bit on your main activities in shipping and logistics?
Pishbar was established in 1970 and at that time Iran was a rich country with many project investments. Pishbar was a Panalpina agent from 1976 to 1979 (the revolution years) and participated in many oil and gas and power plant projects.
After my arrival at Pishbar, we began the transit of cargo to CIS countries like Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Our main activities are now the shipment of project cargo for Iran and CIS countries by truck and rail, but we are also active in sea freight transports from Bandar Abbas to the major ports the world over.
Daniel, first off, could you please tell us about the history of Mercomar? Who owns the company today?
Mercomar was established in 1994 and it's one hundred percent owned by Robinson family. Although my cousins Sebastian and Paula and I are the fourth generation of the company, my father, whom you already know (he's third generation), still leads this strong team, which I’m proud to be part of.
Mercomar is the freight forwarding division of the Robinson Group (founded 81 years ago). Mercomar specializes in cargo transportation and international logistics services. It has three different business units which are: PCL (Project Cargo Logistics), GCL (General Cargo Logistics) and TCL (Tank Container Logistics), with offices not only in Argentina, but also in Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia.
Alexis, first please tell us about the history of COMEXAS. You were traditionally involved in the African trade, right? Can you tell us more?
COMEXAS originated as the freight forwarding division within the Bunge group (a commodity trader) in Antwerp in 1949. COMEXAS stood for ‘Compagnie d’Export et Assurance’. In 1953, the company made the decision to expand its network and set up ‘COMEXAS Afrique’ in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This expansion represented a turning point in the history of the group, being the foundation of its vision and its commitment to Africa.
One of the most important dates in our history was the management buyout, done by the actual owners, that took place on the first of January 1992. Since then, the same owners and close collaborators have been watching over COMEXAS’ growth.
Container Feeder Capsizes at Bandar Abbas
Not everyday that a feeder sinks whilst alongside but it happened this time at Bandar Abbas a port in IRAN. We are reminded that things can happen and quickly at that. There are sometimes elements that we cannot, as humans always control or the problem is the human element itself….
On March 19, a container ship capsized at the port of Bandar Abbas, Iran, sending 153 containers into the water. Iranian officials believe that the accident happened due to improper loading.
Iranian maritime official Mehdi Haghshenas told state media that the casualty was caused by “poor coordination between the ship’s first officer and the crane operator.”
Australia Clears Iron Ore Ports as Cyclone Approaches
I visited the iron ore production facilities of BHP in Newman, Australia and the control office of Rio Tinto in Perth a few years ago as part of the Western Australia’s first ever minerals and resources tour. I was the only shipping-man in the delegation. We even visited Barrow Island where Chevron built a massive gas production facility.
It is mighty impressive to see where iron ore (that is needed in every high rise that booming economies are building) comes from. The weather however, can also play a role in shipping delays.
The operator of Australia’s key iron ore exporting ports said it was clearing ships from the sites as a severe tropical cyclone heads towards the northwestern coast, while miners were also bracing for a separate cyclone in the northeast.
Whilst we are on the subject of elements it probably escaped noone that the cruise ship mv Viking Sun was caught in a severe storm off the coast of Norway and at the same time lost engine power making it drift helplessly around and rolling incessantly as this video will show. I am starting to have 2nd thoughts on my upcoming trip as a passenger onboard CMA CGM CHOPIN from Singapore to Melbourne in June.
Uncertainty remains over who will pay for compliance with IMO 2020
Compliance is a buzzword nowadays and ne that we will hear more and more as we are counting down to new rules and regulations (of course we never remove any rules or regulations we only add ….) governing IMO 2020. Interesting article here from Loadstar. And by the way dont forget to file your method statement before you go to the bathroom or you are not in compliance..
Carriers and shippers remain in dispute over who will pay for compliance with the pending sulphur fuel cap. And they have further concerns over unified global enforcement.
At the European Shippers’ Council Maritime Day 2019, Nick Lurkin, of the Royal Association of Netherlands’ Shipowners (KVNR), said carrier customers needed to accept the cap.
Photo Journal: 30 Day Trip onboard a Containership from Southampton to Hong Kong by the Editor
Steel pipe manufacturing facility expanding; 128 new jobs to be created
On Thursday, Mar. 21, Governor John Bel Edwards announced that Stupp Corp. will invest $22 million to upgrade its two steel pipe manufacturing plants in Baton Rouge
Austrian manufacturer Senoplast builds its fourth production line in Queretaro
Senoplast Klepsch & Co. GmbH, an Austria-based manufacturer of co-extruded semi-finished plastic sheets and films for thermoforming applications, recently broke ground in Queretaro to build its fourth production line.
Chinese group to build Sh200bn Athi River city city plans
A Chinese real estate group has announced plans to build a mega city in Nairobi’s Athi River area at an estimated cost of Sh200 billion, deepening the Asian nation’s inroads into Kenya’s construction sector.
Suzuki to set up production plant in Ghana
The Japanese Multinational automobile manufacturing company, Suzuki Motor Corporation has announced its intention to set up a production facility in Ghana and make the country the hub of its operations in sub-Saharan Africa
Breakbulk Asia in Shanghai
Breakbulk expo in Shanghai was on last week. Had the chance to discuss in depth with the director of COSCO Guangzhou in charge of their breakbulk tonnage and learning a lot about their expansion plans. Once COSCO get their marketing right worldwide they will be an even more formidable force in the field of heavylift and breakbulk shipping globally. They will according to reports set up a new European office soon to control all quotes in/out of the “old continent” so keep an eye open for that.
Exiting port of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia at night
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