Liner industry problems
THE SIXTH regular meeting was really a case of 'all change!' The venue was not the 38th floor of the World Trade Centre but a training room of the Jardine organisation. The guest speaker, Mr Halyard Berg of Barber Wilhelmsen, caused another change when he spoke on the many problems besetting the liner industry, instead of on the 'BBS round-the-world service' which could have turned out to be just a plug. The talk was illustrated with well-chosen slides and seemed to be very well received by the members and their guests who were present.
It is not too often that we practitioners can avail ourselves of the opportunity of really coming to grips with the conflicts and tensions faced by the commercial side of our industry. When employment falls we instinctively and generally blame without knowing the reasons why. Mr Berg presented clearly and logically the reasons why: overcapacity, low freight rates, bankruptcies, poor cash-flows, drop in world trade of liner cargoes, excessive shipyard capacities and short-sighted governments' policies.
Allen Pyrke's vote of thanks followed a fairly lively question time which made it clear that members were forced to begin to think deeply about a subject with which they were not always entirely familiar. Captain Pyrke pointed out that this was an excellent thing and praised the speaker for this exposition of the bottomline and for clothing the naked headlines which are becoming all too common today and which scream out that yet another long-established shipowner has bitten the dust.
Owing to the unavoidable absence of the Chairman, the chair was taken by Dugald Robson. Captain Robson, who has taken over as Hon. Treasurer from Nick Lane, was welcomed and thanked by the members at the meeting.
It is planned that a major conference be mounted in 1987 and recommendations from members are invited. Tentatively, in the absence of alternative subject areas, the theme can be 'Developments in Shipping Law in the Pacific Basin.' A conference takes organising and planning so any and all suggestions, recommendations, and, above all, offers of help, will be welcomed by the Hon. Secretary as soon as possible.
Contributed by Captain N. J. Lopez, FNI
Seaways March 1986