15-16/2014 Tour d'horizon
At the beginning of the year I resisted the temptation to quote the massed choir of analysts and self-proclaimed prophets on this page, all of them seeking to predict the future development of our industry. All these weeks later I have now given in to the urge.
Study after study – most of them generally predicting quite an upswing for the transport and logistics industry – has recently been landing in our in-box here at the ITJ’s editorial offices. The mood is finally lightening in the UK as well, where the sector has really been struggling in the past few years. So our United Kingdom and Ireland Special has come at just the right moment to highlight developments on the British Isles.
At a global level, at least in the shipping industry, the hot issues of the day – consolidation and cost cuts – remain largely unchanged. The USA’s Federal Maritime Commission recently gave both the planned P3 alliance as well as the extended activities of the G6 alliance the green light. The projected merger of the German shipping line Hapag-Lloyd and its Chilean counterpart CSAV also seems to have met with the approval of the latter’s shareholders, and has thus moved another step closer.
Consolidation may be progressing apace, but for cost cuts the picture is entirely more mixed. Besides analysing all the latest predictions, we’ve mainly been poring over annual reports for the past few weeks. This has revealed that last year was once again tough. Whilst it’s true that many companies managed to reduce their expenditures, not a few entities’s operating results still left a lot to be desired. Michael Behrendt, the chairman of Hapag-Lloyd’s executive board, admitted as much for his firm (see page 16). So it remains to be seen whether only our longer spring days here in Europe will brighten the industry’s mood.
Things are different in Malta, on which our second Special focuses. The island state has managed to turn its special geopolitical situation into an international competitive advantage. Read more all about the Mediterranean state from page 41 onwards.
All good things come in threes, which is why our tour d’horizon includes a Special on developments in the Baltic states, Central Asia, Russia and Eastern Europe, on which we focus in our supplement this week.
Here’s wishing you a good read!
Antje Hanna Veregge
Head of shipping & ports