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International Maritime Organization Secretary-General: There will always be a demand for shipping
2009-09-29 14:08:06

Nicosia, Sep 29 – The Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization Efthymios Mitropoulos appeared confident on Monday, September 29, that despite the current global economic downturn there will always be a demand for shipping.

In an address to the Maritime Cyprus 2009 conference, entitled “Challenges facing shipping and IMO,” Mr. Mitropoulos said that reduced demand in shipping was a “natural” consequence of the “worst financial crisis ever recorded,” adding however that “no matter how global markets may contract, expand, or otherwise metamorphose, there will always be a demand for ships and shipping to be the delivery mechanism of global trade.”

“I have every confidence that the industry we serve will continue to respond to that demand effectively and efficiently, provided that it is not impeded by protectionist measures,” he said.

Mr. Mitropoulos emphasized, however, that financial difficulties should not lead to a lowering of standards in shipping through cutting corners or skimping on key items such as maintenance, repair and training.

“Those who continue to provide their customers with a quality service throughout times of recession will be in a better position to prosper once the economic situation improves,” he pointed out.

The IMO Secretary-General also referred to piracy which “has escalated to epidemic proportions,” noting that despite the collective response to this phenomenon by governments, intergovernmental, regional and defense alliances, “it is imperative that the shipping industry itself improves its own defenses by taking all the recommended preventive, evasive and defensive measures.”

With regard to fleet officers shortage, which he called “a serious cause of concern,” Mr. Mitropoulos said that although the economic downturn may have altered the figures to a certain extend by reducing short-term demand for shipping services, the underlying problem still remains.

Regarding air emissions, Mr. Mitropoulos said that the IMO agreed to a package of measures that will put the IMO “in good stead” when the overall issue of climate change is reviewed by an international conference to convene in Copenhagen in December.

“But we live in, and share, the same planet and our responsibilities vis-a-vis it go beyond those we have within our borders. We should all, therefore, think globally and act globally,” he concluded.

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