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Jan Kopernicki inaugral speech as president of Chamber of Shipping, London

By • Mar 26th, 2010 • Category: Coracle Meets..., General

Inaugural speech by Jan Kopernicki as President of Chamber of Shipping, London
25 March 2010

Jan Kopernicki

Jan Kopernicki at AGM

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, good morning.

I am very honoured to be President of the Chamber of Shipping. For Britain, shipping is massively important: as a mainstay of the national economy, a proud historical heritage, and part of the country’s lifeblood. So I’m looking forward to continuing to build the Chamber’s pre-eminent role, and promoting British shipping.

And I would like to thank our out-going President, Jesper Kjaedegaard, for his commitment and contribution over last 12 months. I have really enjoyed working with you Jesper and am very pleased that you will continue to serve the Board in the year ahead.

This year, 2010, is an important year for global shipping. It has been designated by the International Maritime Organisation as the Year of the Seafarer. This is a very fitting tribute to the role and dedication of seafarers everywhere, and it gives us a global opportunity to acknowledge what they do, and extend our gratitude to them.

We must recognise that seafarers still face many challenges, and new ones emerge constantly – ranging from more frequent and more extreme weather events to piracy in certain parts of the world.

I believe the industry, governments and consumers all owe an incalculable debt to seafarers. And I am proud to promote that in this special year.

As President, my main goal is to increase government and industry understanding of shipping’s importance to the UK economy and to the critical needs of the UK.

From my perspective, the importance of shipping has three key dimensions:

1. Security
2. Trade
3. Environment

I would like to touch briefly on each of these.

Security and shipping – several facets

First, security and shipping – a relationship with several facets.

For one thing, the UK’s economic security depends on energy security: without enough energy, the economy simply cannot keep going. At present, we are seeing a distinct shift in the UK towards greater gas consumption. The ‘just in case’ oil economy, with oil stored against future possible need, is giving way to a ‘just in time’ gas economy. That gas increasingly comes to the UK by sea, in the form of liquefied natural gas, or LNG. Potentially, LNG’s share of the national energy mix could rise from 1% to 35% by 2020 – that is, within ten years. So the sea lines of communication for this energy source are vitally important.

This link between economic security and shipping is not just about energy. Far from it. The issue also embraces containerisation, and other sectors as well. It’s estimated that cruise ships will carry over 18 million passengers around the globe this year. And some 18 million containers will make over 200 million trips. We know that over 90% of goods traded by the UK travel by sea. So the security of sea lanes is crucially important.

And it is under threat in many places. Piracy is a long-running sore in Somalia, and growing off the West coast of Africa. Resolving this challenge depends heavily on collaboration – by governments, national and international organisations, industry and the military. I would note, in particular, the critical role of the Royal Navy as a protector of the merchant fleet; and also acknowledge the joint initiatives that NATO and the EU have undertaken to maintain shipping security.

Now, the second dimension of shipping’s importance: maritime trade. Britain has a proud heritage as a maritime nation over many centuries. Today, this nation is still pre-eminent in maritime services – including shipping finance, insurance, brokerage, law and shipping itself. There is competition from other centres, but London remains the final point of reference in most maritime matters.

I see the Chamber of Shipping playing a vital role in helping to maintain that pre-eminence, by engaging on today’s issues. Especially, we must focus on ensuring that the tax regime, and the employment regime, support the needs of the industry and its workers.

There have been positive developments in recent times. For example, the tonnage tax is now a well established incentive mechanism. Training has seen a dramatic increase in numbers and quality, as a result of the tonnage tax training commitment, and the introduction of Foundation Degrees in the many excellent maritime colleges around the country. Seafarers have benefited significantly. And further discussions are ongoing with Government. In addition, many young people are receiving development opportunities they would not otherwise have had, in work incentive programmes in our industry. And there is more good news besides.

But this is no time for resting on laurels. There are many other specific issues to be addressed – such as: light dues; and the implications of the way the new equality law may be implemented; and the continuing need to provide a strong and certain business climate for shipping, and the wider maritime services, in this country.

Finally, to the third dimension of shipping’s importance – environment. Let us not forget that shipping is the most carbon-friendly means of transporting the world’s trade and that any modal shift away from our industry would be immensely damaging. Nonetheless, in this dimension, some new solutions are needed urgently.

Coming from the energy industry, I am extremely conscious of the global challenges posed by carbon and other emissions. To resolve these, we need to make some hard choices, and we need to implement good solutions quickly – for example, with a trading system that puts a value on carbon.

The shipping agenda contains many environmental issues. One of these is ballast water management. There are also practical issues around sulphur emissions – not just from the viewpoint of safety in fuel-switching, but also the economic realities faced by the short-sea and passenger sectors. We need practical solutions that will achieve the end goal without – along the way – putting people out of business or moving cargos away from the sea to more environmentally damaging modes of transport.

As President, I see the Chamber’s ongoing commitment to positive action on carbon as a top priority in 2010.

I have highlighted why 2010 – the Year of the Seafarer – is important for global shipping. This is also an important year for the UK shipping sector – with the forthcoming elections. It is true that “shipping has no votes”. But it does have substantial impacts which need to be recognised in the national debate about peace and prosperity.

Peace and prosperity require economic stability and growth – and shipping is at the heart of this for the UK.

So, in this election year, we don’t need more theoretical debate. We need a debate that leads to action – for example, on carbon trading, and providing a stimulus for innovation; action that will enhance:

1. maritime security
2. the pre-eminence of maritime London and the importance of Maritime UK
3. and environmental solutions

The way forward – President’s commitment to promote joint action

So, as President of the Chamber, I am committed to promote joint action over the next 12 months:

* Action with the UK Government – whichever party comes to power;
* And with the IMO – so that we continue to support the IMO’s ground-breaking work and effective leadership across the spectrum: on emissions, security, and much more;
* To joint action within Maritime UK – presenting a united front across the full maritime services sector with our colleagues in the ports and maritime business – shaping solutions, and achieving common goals for the good of those we represent and the nation as a whole;
* And to action within the Chamber – where I look forward very much to working closely with you all, and in particular with Michael Parker as the Chamber’s new Vice President.

Together we can continue to bring out the best in British shipping.

Thank you.

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