Today’s opening session of the Sea Asia 2019 conference, the Sea Asia
Global Forum, featured discussions on key issues facing the maritime
industry, with veteran leaders representing both ship owners and cargo
interests on the panel.
The panel consisted of: Mr Erck Rickmers, Chairman of E.R. Capital; Mr
Andreas Sohmen-Pao, Chairman of BW Group and Chairman of Singapore
Maritime Foundation; Mr Tan Chong Meng, Group Chief Executive Officer at
PSA International; and, Mr Søren Toft, Member of the Executive Board and
Chief Operating Officer at A.P Møller – Mærsk A/S.
Moderated by Teymoor Nabili, Journalist, Broadcaster and Managing Editor at
TheSignal.asia, the panel discussed both the short and long term outlook for
the industry – noting the recent and continuing pace of change in an evolving
and uncertain economic environment, the adoption of new technologies, and
a need to adapt operations for a more sustainable future.
While this uncertainty was acknowledged by the panel, Mr Sohmen-Pao
provided a positive view, highlighting that maritime industry’s importance
has never been greater. Pointing to China’s growth, his view is that there
remains a significant opportunity for the industry to continue to thrive, as
demand for the supply of goods globally continues to increase.
Broadly, the panellists see the IMO 2020 regulations as a positive step
change for the industry but acknowledge that more detail is required to
understand how they will be overseen.
In this context, the panellists also canvassed the potential for a carbon tax.
Mr Toft, Mr Sohmen-Pao and Mr Tan agreed that a carbon tax is an important
step to encourage the industry to address climate change. Mr Tan stressed
that any tax needs to be applied to all players in order for the industry to
remain competitive and fair for all.
Mr Toft added that it is important for the industry to invest for the future and
one way to do this is to channel revenues into R&D to address
decarbonisation in shipping.
While the maritime industry is largely seen as lagging behind in adopting
new technology, Mr Rickmers said that it is ready to adopt change. While it
may take a little more time, he is positive that the shipping industry will
become as digitised as other sectors.
The opportunities presented by digitisation was discussed, namely the ability
for technology to improve communication between shore workers and sea
farers, as highlighted by Mr Toft, who said the use of sensors on ships
enables the teams to work together to optimise operations. Digitisation also
provides huge potential for the industry to more easily and efficiently
increase volumes of trade globally.
The panellists also assessed whether the maritime workforce can keep up
with the adoption of these technologies. In response, Mr Tan highlighted that
graduates in the maritime sector can look forward to greater opportunities as
they enter the workforce better prepared and multiskilled.
The Forum concluded that it is imperative for companies, regardless of their
role within the industry, to focus on customers’ needs. Mr Toft said that with
the uncertain economic environment and current pace of industry change,
businesses need to be customer-centric to better deliver their solutions,
while remaining relevant to future supply chains.
Mr Søren Toft, Member of the Executive Board and Chief Operating Officer at A.P
Møller – Mærsk A/S, sharing his thoughts on the key issues facing the maritime industry
with the panellists and audience during the Sea Asia Global Forum.