What's happening in Europe





Rotterdam leads terminal automation as mega ships dictate the way forward

With M&A fever raging throughout shipping, terminal operators look to what must be done as mega ships in mega alliances dominate life afloat on east-west routes.

The response of the biggest and boldest is terminal automation, be it partial or total. At a time when ships get bigger and make fewer port calls, and dump massive amounts of at one time, terminals large and small must find ways to cope.

Those that fail will be quickly abandoned by desperate carriers seeking those that can do the job to retain fickle shippers, who are forever in search of a better price and quicker service in a market afflicted with over supply.

Lesson for Europe on trade: Trump's bark looks worse than his bite

The big mistake the western establishment made about the US presidential election was to take Donald Trump literally, but not seriously, while his supporters took him seriously, not literally.

So said obscure Pennsylvania pundit Salena Zito, who contributes to the conservative Weekly Standard magazine. What she said has since become the main take-away of the entire election.

Today, there is enough evidence to support her contention, showing Trump's bark is worse than his bite on China, free trade and a range of other issues. There are often unsavoury aspect of trade agreements that can be attacked ferociously without risk to the substance of these accords.

Continuing to wrestle with the age old problem of getting cargo off the docks by truck

Long a problem in ports worldwide, there are now lessons to be learnt in Europe from efforts to alleviate trucks that clog the gates of the 13 marine container terminals in southern California's San Pedro Bay harbour complex.

At issue today is the transparency of finances of LA-Long Beach's jointly managed PierPass Inc, which was formed 10 years ago to manage the problem but is still little closer to doing so.

In the latest attempt it help, a workshop last December attended by 70 major shippers, or beneficial cargo owners (BCO), truckers and other stakeholders addressed what options they could think of.

Many agreed that financial transparency problems arose from the complexities of running night gate service. If all went well, truckers benefit from daytime gate service, which is congested because of its universal popularity.

Mandarin Shipping sees mass scrapping of shipping and shipbuilding as only way out

There are times when the obvious course is the best one, when there is no-story-behind-the-story to provide an escape, only the painful hard road to get from where you are to where you want to be.

"There are too many ships - so scrap them," Tim Huxley, managing director of Mandarin Shipping, told a somber audience at a Hong Kong Maritime Industry Week. "They lack employment and there is zero expectation that employment will be found."

Mr Huxley was speaking at an Asia Maritime magazine event at the Foreign Correspondents Club (FCC), recalling his youth in England: "When I was a kid, there were 36 shipyards on the River Tyne, by the time Margaret Thatcher had done with them, there were none.

"What is needed in China is a Margaret Thatcher figure to come in and do to Chinese shipbuilding what she did to British shipbuilding in the early '80s," said the 24-year veteran of Clarkson's, the London shipbrokers.


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