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Wednesday, 18 September 19
SHIPPING MARKET INSIGHT - INTERMODAL
IntermodalDuring the first week of September, I had the privilege of attending the Donsö Shipping Meet 2019, in Donsö, a small island of around 1, 500 inhabitants, in the Gothenburg southern archipelago.
 
DSM19 has been one of Sweden’s biggest shipping events (if not the biggest) with more than 2,000 visitors from 30 countries, 110 shipping companies and 300 exhibitors that all gathered in this small, car-free, island to discuss shipping related matters. 
 
It was indeed a really interesting Conference / Exhibition with the agenda including challenging topics, covered by some very distinguished speakers. However, the two main take aways – from my side at least – were the following.
 
Shortage of personnel. As it happens in the Greek shipping sector, Sweden suffers from a local seafarers’ shortage. Whilst there is a separate campaign to attract young people into shipping, in DSM19 there was an event (in parallel with a recruitment fair) whereby around 2,200 young boys and girls visited the Exhibition, got on board a new eco tanker and had a full day of activities (including navigation simulation, fire drills etc). Of course, the youngsters were accompanied by teachers, career guidance counsellors and also the Swedish Minister of Education!  I don’t know whether the Swedish government will ultimately succeed in tackling this problem; I don’t know what the employment alternatives for the young Swedish are either. What I do know is that looking at these 2,200 young people going in-out-around the ship on their rescue suits really gave me a positive view of the future.      
 
Ship financing. At this DSM, there was for the first time a Financing Meet as well.  Again, common with Greek shipping, I was surprised to listen to ship-owners arguing with their banks on who is a good owner to lend to and on when is the right timing to enter shipping / ship financing. Again, common to Greek shipping, the banks’ representatives admitted that their decision makers need to understand shipping better, but at the same time ship-owners need to understand how the financial markets work. It is therefore, once more evident that this is an international issue. The owners from one side stating that the conservative family businesses are the right ones to lend to and the banks replying with their usual Basel IV arguments. This is a debate dragging on for decades.
 
Perhaps, it’s about time the financial institutions agreed on a common checklist with their 10-15 common characteristics, which they believe constitute a solid shipping company and then communicate it. To get it a bit further, why not also seek for the opinion of the actual players of this game, i.e. the ship-owners. This would be ideal for both parties; the banks would hear the views of those who actually put the skin in the game and the ship-owners would have a far better understanding of where their financiers are coming from.   
 
Both the above topics (crew shortage and debate between owners and banks) attracted my attention the most during the three days of the event, simply because these are the topics/issues that you will hear about whether you attend a conference in Singapore, Greece or in Donsö. In other words, these are well known problems that affect the shipping sector as a whole; problems that we should all act upon. Definitely, the young boys and girls with their blue DSM19 hats on was some light at the end of the tunnel!

By George Laios
Deputy CEO, Intermodal Group

Compiled by:
Intermodal Research & Valuations


Analysts:
Ms Eva Tzima

Mr.George Panagopoulos


Disclaimer and legal disclosure: For any further queries please do not hesitate to contact our Research & Valuations Department. The information contained in this report has been obtained from various sources, as reported in the market. Intermodal Shipbrokers Co. believes such information to be factual and reliable without making guarantees regarding its accuracy or completeness. Whilst every care has been taken in the production of the above review, no liability can be accepted for any loss or damage incurred in any way whatsoever by any person who may seek to rely on the information and views contained in this material. This report is being produced for the internal use of the intended recipients only and no reproducing is allowed, without the prior written authorization of Intermodal Shipbrokers Co.

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