The fourth Maritime Standard Ship Finance and Trade Conference held at Abu Dhabi saw optimistic outlook for the shipping industry.
In other years the sense of challenge and adversity was dominant. However, this year, speakers at the one-day conference were generally much more optimistic and upbeat about market prospects. But, a number of potential hazards on the road to full recovery were also much in evidence.
Conference chairman, Clive Woodbridge, editor of The Maritime Standard, said: “This time speakers generally focussed on how shipping companies and port operators in the region might take full advantage of more promising market fundamentals.
There was a clear agreement that stakeholders need to work more closely together. This is to ensure that these emerging opportunities can be capitalised on. Also, there is a need for greater flexibility in terms of financing options. For example, crowd funding type solutions coming into the equation.
Keynote speaker, H.E. Ahmed Shareef Alkhoori, director general, federal transport, land & maritime, underlined some of the positive changes being planned for the country’s maritime laws. He also highlighted the proactive role the UAE is now taking in its role as an IMO Council member.
Collaboration between finance sector, shipping industry
Abu Dhabi Ports CEO Capt. Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi called for a new era of collaboration between the financial sector and those active in shipping and ports.
“By investing in ports, shipping and logistics, we can ensure the region has the ecosystem to attract the biggest names in the business and help them establish, or grow, their presence in the region.
“But, we need the support of the financial industry to do so.”
Financial institutions have lacked the depth of knowledge needed to fully understand the fundamentals of the ports and shipping sector. This has affected their confidence to support development.
“This in turn limits our ability to seize opportunities and to grow,” Captain Shamisi added.
“If our industry is to truly realise its potential in this region then this must change, which is why I am calling on financial institutions, whether based here or elsewhere in the world, to open their eyes and their minds to all that our industry has to offer.”