Five Major Issues Facing Shipping Industry In The Next Decade

major issues facing shipping industry
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The international maritime industry is no stranger to pressing challenges. However, the next decade could prove to be a major turning point for a number of international carriers.

Political tensions are impacting trade trends, new technologies and regulations impose restrictions and the global climate change puts shipping companies under pressure to reduce their carbon footprint.

survey of maritime experts and stakeholders from across 46 maritime dependent countries reveals these are just some of the concerns facing the shipping industry over the next decade.

Global Economic Crisis

According to shipping leaders, the global economic crisis is their number one concern in 2020. It is an issue the industry is least prepared for.

Despite the rise imports and exports in various eCommerce sectors, the maritime industry is still feeling the effects of the depression following the 2008 banking collapse.

Global trade patterns have slowed significantly in recent years. Triggered by geopolitical tension – trade embargoes the US has imposed on China and the ongoing Brexit negotiations – the international maritime industry is already feeling the effects of the decreased volume of trades.

The recent outbreak of coronavirus will slow trade even more and have a wider impact on the industry. Companies will have to offset costs through redundancy and raise tariffs in an already competitive market.

Rise In Fuel Costs

In an attempt to improve the health and safety of maritime crew and the wider impact on the environment, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) is set to introduce the 2020 Sulphur Regulation.

The paradigm shift to zero-emission carbon fuels adds more financial pressure on shipping companies despite the promise of long-term savings. In the meantime, the cost of fuel is expected to rise.

The decarbonisation of ships is the second most pressing concern for the shipping sector. The industry is generally unprepared to make these changes, yet failing to meet new regulations will incur penalties.

Environmental Regulations

The International Maritime Industry is tasked with cutting carbon emission by 50% of its 2008 about by the year 2050.

Dubbed the Poseidon Principles, the global framework sets out the environmental, legal, social and economic benchmarks the maritime sector will be upheld towards.

The prime target for maritime companies is to align their shipping portfolios with the global climate goals set by the IMO. The regulatory laws involve collecting and submitting relevant data within a specified timeframe.

IMO Cyber Security Regulations

In the last three years, the shipping industry has been the target of several high-profile cyber-security attacks. Breaches by Maersk, COSCO and Austal, as well as ports such as San Diego and Barcelona have led to the industry taking a closer examination of cybersecurity measures.

Sectors that are critical to the infrastructure of the global community will always be targeted by cybercriminals. Geopolitical tensions have arguably made companies in some parts of the world more vulnerable.

Commencing from January 1, 2021, the shipping firms are obligated to provide compliance documentation. The safety management system (SMS) falls under the International Safety Management (ISM) code which covers issues such as risk assessment, cybersecurity, operating procedures and staff training.

New Digital Technologies

As global digitalisation accelerates, the shipping industry comes under pressure to adopt the latest technologies. Artificial intelligence (AI) software as service (SaaS) and autonomy have the potential to revolutionise the shipping industry.

Unless established companies update legacy systems, they could be usurped by a new generation of shipping leaders that focus on sustainability, diversity and technological solutions.


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