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Monday, October 15, 2018

INTER-INDUSTRY ROUNDTABLE GROUP MEETS IN SINGAPORE – SHIPBUILDING STANDARDS, SHIPYARD CAPACITY EXPANSION AND PIRACY CONCERNS HIGHLIGHTED

The Inter-Industry Round Table Group, comprising the Chairmen and Chief Executives of the four principal international shipping industry associations, ICS, INTERTANKO, Intercargo and BIMCO, met 3-4 February in Singapore, this time under the rotating chairmanship of ICS. Besides continuing the process of increased cooperation among the associations on common areas of our respective work programmes, these regular meetings of the Chairmen aim to ensure that the interests of the industry are promoted in the most effective manner. This meeting focused in particular on shipbuilding and piracy issues, as well as the role and responsibilities of flag states, pilotage, ship recycling and recent initiatives with classification societies.

At various levels the international shipping industry has regular contact with representative bodies of charterers, port authorities, classification societies, trades unions, oil companies, marine insurers and a range of other interests in the maritime community, but rarely has it established a similar relationship with the shipbuilding industry. Yet the fortunes of the shipping and shipbuilding industries are mutually interdependent, and an effective dialogue between the two industries can only contribute to a better understanding of their respective priorities and aspirations.

Since shipbuilding, ship design and newbuilding standards are issues which have been under recent discussion within the organisations and within the industry, it was decided to invite representatives from the three largest national shipbuilding industries – Japan, Korea and China – to exchange views on a number of topical issues. In view of the close involvement of the classification societies in the shipbuilding process it was also decided to invite the three corresponding Class Societies. The issues discussed included:

  • Shipping/Shipbuilding Supply and Demand and Shipbuilding Capacity
  • Shipbuilding Standards – principally in the wet and dry bulk sectors
  • Relationship between Shipowners, Shipyards and Classification Societies
  • Ship Recycling – Promoting the development of a “green passport” for new ships

A constructive dialogue was established on the relationship between shipyard capacity, design and production standards and quality, and future shipping markets. Naturally the opportunity was also taken to introduce ISTEC’s paper on Newbuilding Standards, which was well received and which provided the basis for an improved understanding of tanker owners’ concerns. At the conclusion of a frank and open session the parties agreed to continue an exchange of information and to plan for a further meeting.

The meeting on piracy involved senior representatives of the Administrations of Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore and was convened by the Round Table Group in order to raise shipowners' concerns with regard to the issue of piracy and armed robbery and to discuss the scope for tackling attacks against merchant shipping in the region in a truly effective manner.

The objective of the meeting was to gain a clearer understanding of the positions of the three littoral states, of the measures needed to combat attacks against merchant shipping in the region, and of the necessary steps which the littoral states, flag states, and the industry should be taking.

A total of 20 high-level government officials from Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore were present at the meeting. Mr P Mukundan, Director of the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), was invited to give a brief resumé of the situation. According to Mr Mukundan, 2001 saw a remarkable drop in the number of piracy attacks in the Malacca Straits to 17 compared with 75 from the previous year, although he warned against drawing conclusions before an actual downward trend over a few years had been established. A presentation by Admiral Mitropoulos, Assistant Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), summarised the activities of IMO to encourage an effective response to attacks on merchant ships on the part of the relevant coastal states.

Mr Mak Joon Num, Director of Research at the Maritime Institute of Malaysia (MIMA) presented a paper providing data from the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement and Coordination Centre (MECC), which was analysed against the data collated by the IMB to give a comparative picture of the situation in Malaysian waters. The presentation also covered an outline of the measures taken by the Malaysian government, the constraints faced by regional authorities in tackling the issue, and some suggestions on how to manage the piracy problem.

While the apparent reduction in the overall number of incidents worldwide was welcomed, much concern was expressed at the lack and method of reporting some cases and the validity of the conclusions being drawn. Further there was deep concern from industry at the apparent increase in the number of highjackings and the severity of some of the armed attacks, which was most disturbing for the crew and owners of vessels trading in the “high-risk” areas. The parties present therefore recognised the need for careful analysis of the statistics in order to determine trends and also to understand the problems better. The need for increased cooperation among the littoral states and for a continuing dialogue with industry was also highlighted throughout the meeting and various ways of bringing this about were explored. At the conclusion of the meeting the parties agreed to establish a regional administrations-industry-IMB consultative group to progress some of the ideas generated during the day and to develop others to bring about improvements.

Draft minutes of the meeting will be made available in due course.

For further information:

Contact: Peter Swift, peter.swift@intertanko.com