It is Thursday, the 5th of March, and since it is Thursday again, we are back.
The coronavirus (more here) is starting to take a serious toll on anything related to transportation and shipping. Not only is there cancellation of events and insecurity about whether events are on or not, but you have shipping lines lifting a fraction of the cargo to fill up their vessels compared to before. You have airlines that are unable to keep many of their planes in the sky in order to earn money and finance themselves. It is also increasingly influencing the supply chain, and sooner if not later, there will be problems in keeping the production flowing because parts cannot easily be sourced as efficiently and cheaply elsewhere as from China. It is also a stark reminder of the importance of China in today’s economy.
In my opinion, this whole coronavirus crisis has shown both the weakness and the strength of China.
In terms of strength…
Can you imagine a country in Europe shutting down a city the size of London, let alone a country the size of France? Most Chinese that I know are pretty subdued at the moment, and here at home, being married to a Chinese person with family in Shandong province, I hear firsthand about the measures taken to contain the virus, primarily in Hubei but also in nearby provinces.
In terms of some weakness…
From what I understand firsthand and not from a BBC reporter far away in a 5-star compound, China is indeed doing what it can to deal with this. I think the cost to China alone will finally make them wake up to the fact that education in the countryside and changing old traditions of food handling, open markets, etc. MUST happen!
The virus crisis also influenced my own traveling. I decided to return earlier from Dubai, skipping New York and Lisbon, and cancelled a trip to Doha and Perth in April.
The jury is still out concerning my joining the Antwerp XL (April 21-23) which, of course, will suffer from, as many other conferences, a lack of visitors from Asia if this situation persists.
Let us keep the mood positive, and hope that we are able to contain the virus, dealing with it swiftly and in a non-democratic way. In other words, sometimes the time for talk is past, and action is the only measure that counts.
I can say upfront that with a daughter in Vienna, son in New York, daughter in London, and kids in Stockholm, plus family in China, I do get the global view from my own “reporters.” Safety of family and the rest of the world is paramount.
I hear some voices that say: “Hey, don’t worry. It’s nothing more than a flu.” They are likely the same type that say while onboard the plane in heavy turbulence: “Hey, I ain’t worried. I fly a lot and am used to it,” whilst ordering a stiff drink and hiding behind the newspaper. In other words, they are as worried as anyone! In a global world, we have to stand shoulder to shoulder, moving forward to deal with problems head on.
The EU is having another standoff with Turkey’s Erdogan in an ugly game involving thousands of people. Legitimate—and many non-legitimate—refugees want to enter the EU in search of a better life. (more here) It remains to be seen if this time around, the EU can do more than just talk and pay Erdogan off. Perhaps it can actually defend its own external borders because as the result of a stupid agreement called Schengen we have before we were able to secure the outside, opened up borders inside. Frontex, the EU agency for controlling the EU borders, is apparently manned with bureaucrats and seems to be unable to do something until it is almost too late.
The EU has not made things clear from the start, and we need to go back to the 2007-2008 idea that there is no free lunch in Europe. Whilst we are, and rightly so, always willing to help real refugees from war and famine, we are not a haven filled with jobs and welfare—at least not any longer. The strain is showing in most European countries, resulting in the rise of right wing parties (called “populists” by the cafe latte, politically correct, mainstream media).
If the EU had shown some backbone from the beginning, we would have avoided people traveling with false hopes and avoided feeding human traffickers who earn money off the gigantic industry that this migration has now become. The huge NGO industry running the shuttle services from Libya to Italy are also part of the problem and feeding the human traffickers. Naiveté of career politicians. As a famous politician said: “Wir schaffen dass.” (We can do this) to which I will add “nicht” (not—We can not do this)!
I opted today to stick to two interviews so that you won’t fall asleep reading after this long editorial.
I spoke to Atlantic Ro-Ro Carriers Inc, of New York. I got their take on their business, mainly between the US, the Baltic states, and Russia, but also their ability to cover other parts from the world, including the Levant and South Africa as breakbulk and container ship owners and operators. It is always nice to see that the US still does have a merchant fleet of its own and certainly the skillset is still there with interviewees like ARRC. We also include an interview from our archives with Ekman & Co. AB – a major global trader in paper and pulp related products shipping worldwide.
We, of course, will not deviate from our usual course of having some shipping news, trade intel, and interesting videos including wise words.
Until next Thursday, I remain,
Bo H. Drewsen
Atlantic RO-RO Carriers Inc — New York, USA
Mr. Rick Shannon
First of all, Rick, tell our readers a bit about yourself. In particular, how did you get into shipping in the first place? I also believe that you set out a couple of clear demands before joining originally. Tell us more.
I have more than 40 years in the transport industry, holding senior positions in world-wide shipping companies. My career covers most of the major trade lanes in the world, including South-Central America, Europe, the Far East, and Africa. I have extensive experience in the Middle East including Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Dubai, and Turkey. I have headed up logistics projects and shipping for the building of ports, airports, and buildings, with complete turn-key responsibility throughout the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. I lived and handled services between the USA, Puerto Rico, and the surrounding islands from 1967-1970.
Ekman & Co. AB – Gothenburg, Sweden
Mrs. Marna Edmark
Firstly Marna, could you please kindy explain what type of company Ekman is and what you ship around the world? Could you also enlighten our readers a bit about the history of Ekman & Co?
The Ekman family founded its first business in 1663, selling iron and timber and in 1802 Ekman & Co AB was incorporated. Ekman was one of the pioneers in Swedish production and export of pulp and paper and the first Swedish trading house to operate in China, when opening an office in Shanghai in 1914. Through the years Ekman has operated in various businesses and in the early 1980’s business focus shifted to forest related products.
Aitken Spence Maritime & Freight Logistics emerges as Integrated Port & Terminal Logistics Operator of 2020
Aitken Spence Maritime & Freight Logistics was adjudged the Integrated Port & Terminal Logistics Operator of the Year 2020 at the prestigious Global Ports Forum Awards ceremony held in Dubai on 26th February 2020.
ITIC Warns Members of Fraudulent Invoices Relating to Coronavirus Testing
ITIC has received reports of fraudulent invoices being submitted to owners for the provision of medical testing services in relation to the coronavirus.
Fraudulent invoices often contain errors which can be detected. For example, one invoice we have seen had an incorrect flag for the vessel.
A simple check with the Master confirmed that the invoice was fraudulent. Members responsible for settling disbursement accounts, especially ship managers, are urged to be vigilant.
Box Carriers’ Bill for Volumes Lost to Coronavirus Nearing $2bn
Latest here on the cost to the ship owners due to COVID-19. It is staggering and as we can see in this article from Loadstar it raises horrific prospects for the future of supply chains and makes knock-on effects for everyone involved.
The financial cost of the coronavirus outbreak to container lines is now approaching the $2bn mark, according to new research from SeaIntelligence Consulting.
Up to the beginning of this month, the Copenhagen-headquartered analyst estimates that the industry has lost 1.9m teu in volumes since the onset of the crisis, which dampened demand due to the widespread closure of factories in China.
EU Considers Single Window for Rail Freight
EU is good at regulating and is currently considering regulations and standards also for the rail freight industry. The Silk Road seems to be gaining popularity but it has also been talked about for more than 30 years, so perhaps finally it is here to stay longterm and without sudden Russian disruptions with freight increases overnight of 100% or more. I shipped many containers in the days of JEURO and YS-LINE and recall the constant instability of railway services through Russian territory.
After implementing the Maritime Single Window, the European Commission is considering to extend it to the rail freight sector. This move could be set in a new transport strategy that is currently being developed by the legislative body. For rail freight operators and freight forwarders, the single window will simplify their activities.
Picosun Delivers Multiple Production ALD Systems to Asia for Solid State Lighting Device Manufacturing
Picosun Group, Finland-based, global provider of advanced Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) thin film coating solutions, has been chosen by a major Asian customer to deliver significant ALD production capacity for manufacturing of solid state lighting devices.
Meggitt Awarded $73M Contract
Meggitt has been awarded a $73m (£56.8m) contract by a Texas-based aerospace manufacturer. The deal will see the Dorset-headquartered company supply Bell Textron with ice protection components for the V-22 Osprey aircraft.
Water Company Secures $200M Egypt Contract
A Welsh water company has secured a $200m (£155.4m) contract to build a treatment plant near an Egyptian tourist resort. Hydro Industries, based near Llanelli in Llangennech, has won a global tender to build the plant which will service an oil terminal near the tourist destination of Hurghada.
The company, in cooperation with Egypt’s East Gas Company, will ensure that water discharged back into the Red Sea meets new environmental standards imposed by the country’s Environmental Agency whilst drilling for gas and oil continues.
LB Again in Brazil with the Supply of a Large Size Tiles Feeding Line to Portobello
In November last year, LB has finalized with the important Brazilian company Portobello an agreement for the supply of a slabs’ feeding line to be installed at the plant of Tijucas.
COSCO Shipping Specialized Carriers
COSCO is open for business now more than ever when their pillow, the Chinese market, is severely affected. Thus try to approach them for business even when not involving any transport to/from China at all. They DO have the tonnage needed.
MR. Yufei Shen (沈宇飞)
Marketing and Sales Center
COSCO Shipping Specialized Carriers Co., LTD.
Kemi, Finland some 150km from Santa Claus village here at minus 28C from onboard Birka Cruise Line returning to Stockholm.