A recent survey by an international accounting firm reveals that confidence levels in the shipping industry are rising modestly. But the fundamental issues of overtonnage, low freight rates and economic/political turmoil remain, and shipowners see reducing operating costs as critical in the coming years.
I am grateful to my friends at The Maritime Advocate, an excellent e-news summary for the maritime legal profession, for calling attention to a recent survey on confidence levels in the shipping industry. The survey, conducted by the international accounting firm Moore Stephens in May revealed that the average confidence level among all industry sectors was 5.7 on a scale from one to ten. This is slightly higher than the 5.5 average recorded in a similar survey taken in February. By category, the confidence levels in the May survey were: ship managers 6.0, owners 5.6, charters 5.0 and brokers 5.0.
The survey results – showing confidence levels at just slightly above 50% - reflect a lingering atmosphere of uncertainty within the industry, which still faces a future — at least for the next 12-24 months – driven by overtonnage, low freight rates and political and economic crises in the eurozone and elsewhere.
The survey also reveals a continuing focus on reducing operating costs. Moore Stephens partner Richard Breiner stated: “The number of resopndants to our survey who cited operating costs as a signifant performance-influencing factor is as high now as at any time in the past four years. Both cost increases, which are expected to continue for the next two to three years, can be ameliorated to a certain extent by good husbandry and sound business planning, and will of course be more easily borne in a profitable freight market.” He also noted the renewed interest in eco-friendly ships running on alternate fuels to address the lingering high cost of bunkers.
These are the issues that will be addressed at the ShippingInsight Fleet Optimization Conference, at which business leaders and technical experts from all segments of the shipping industry willo gather to discuss the challenges and solutions of improving ship operating efficiencies.
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