The year 2017 is off to a rollercoaster start, and Kemplon Engineering takes a look at some of January’s headlining news and issues in this edition of the Monthly Maritime News Roundup:
E-commerce behemoth Amazon has been coordinating freight shipments from Chinese merchants to its American warehouses – at least 150 containers’ worth since October, according to some reports. Could the new year make it a bigger player in the trillion-dollar business of the movement of goods worldwide, right up there with FedEx and UPS?
Last year, the thawing of relations between the United States and Cuba was big news. The year 2017 is expected to see the practical effects of that diplomatic coup, and January did not disappoint. Governor Rick Scott of Florida has called for state funding cutbacks on ports inking deals with the communist country, and the pressure has put agreements, such as those planned by Port Everglades and the Port of Palm Beach with the National Port Administration of Cuba, temporarily on ice. Still, a high-level Cuban delegation was welcomed at Port Everglades for a tour and business meetings. We shall have to wait and see how they will be moving forward given the unfavorable political reception.
The Philippines is one of the most popular sending countries for men and women working at sea (Royal Caribbean alone, for example, reportedly employs 11,000 Filipino crew members, with a five-year plan of hiring 30,000). It might seem surprising then, that the Asian country has homeported no major cruise ship – until now. The capital of Manila will finally play home to a cruise ship, Star Cruises’ flagship Superstar Virgo – 23 years after the cruise line first started recruiting Filipino talent.
The year is off with a rocky start for plans to curb shipping’s carbon emissions. The Environment Committee of the European Parliament has decided to include shipping within the EU’s Emissions Trading System by the year 2021 if the International Maritime Organization does not come to a carbon agreement by that time– a move criticized by the IMO as potentially detrimental to their own efforts, which will see developments later than the deadline, at 2023. IMO’s position has in turn been criticized by environmental groups under The Clean Shipping Coalition.
The concrete steps forward may be hazy, but the global need to curb emissions wherever it may be reduced is crystal clear. The effects are wide-ranging, from human and animal health hazards to navigational dangers. Consider, for example, the case of a Chinese cruise ship, unable to dock for two days due to limited visibility from heavy smog in Tianjin, earlier this month. Over two thousand people were on board at the time.
Hopefully, changes can be made so that such incidents can be avoided. Cruising, after all, seems to be a big hit with today’s current and emerging travelers. Many agents claim bookings are at least on par with that of the previous year. Furthermore, Cruise Lines International Association’s recently released Cruise Travel Report show a high preference for cruising by Millennial and Generation Y travelers. Optimism is also high for Carnival Corporation, which has come to an agreement with Italy’s famed Fincantieri for two new cruise ships – bringing Carnival’s planned ships scheduled for delivery within the next five years to a grand total of 19!
The end of the month, however, was dampened by a widely-criticized executive order from President Donald Trump, temporarily barring refugees and travelers from seven countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen) from entering the United States in the name of national security. The effects of the ban are extensive. Chaos interrupted in airports in the immediate aftermath, amid confusion on the coverage of the sudden order and specific points of how authorities are to execute it, and as lawyers and protesters took to the premises by the hundreds. Reports indicate the ban may have also affected international cruisers returning to the United States from jaunts abroad, and many prospective travelers both from the named countries and from other nations, have been urged to reconsider their plans of leaving the country for fear of not being allowed to return to the United States. Airlines and cruise lines are seeking clarification on the order, and will be reviewing their options.
Immigration isn’t the only thing that occupied President Trump this month. He had also formally withdrawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal engaging 11 other countries in the Pacific Rim.
Shortly prior to the release these and other controversial orders, President Trump played host to fellow world leader, the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Theresa May, in Washington. Among the goals of the visit are reportedly to reinforce the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom, and to come up with a trade deal that could somehow offset the possible negative economic impacts of Brexit.
Aside from the potential loss of business from the divisive move, Brexit is also foreseen as a problem logistically, due to customs delays. Disruption is expected at borders in the absence of a customs union deal with the EU, as staff would have to check products coming in from the EU as thoroughly as they have to check those from outside markets. By one estimate, for example, this translates to 300 million additional checks in the Port of Dover. Disruption could be enormous, according to observers, unless there are significant investments in hiring and training thousands of additional staff.
Is it really just the start of the year? To think, these are just a few of the major happenings in the ever-dynamic maritime industry! Check in with us again next month, for another issue of the Maritime News Roundup. Until then – we at Kemplon Engineering wish everyone a happy and prosperous New Year, and we sincerely hope the months ahead bring good tidings to all.
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For Further Reading:
Baker-Jordan., Skylar. “None of the US papers put Theresa May’s visit to the White House on their front page. It’s time to face our insignificance.” The Independent, 28 Jan 2017. Web. 03 Feb 2017. http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/theresa-may-trump-visit-newspapers-american-press-insignificance-a7550686.html
“Carnival Orders Two New Cruise Ships.” The Maritime Executive, 19 Jan 2017. Web. 03 Feb 2017. http://www.maritime-executive.com/article/carnival-orders-two-new-cruise-ships
Faust, Chris Gray. “Executive Order on Travel Extends to Ports, May Affect Cruise Passengers.” Cruise Critic, 30 Jan 2017. Web. 03 Feb 2017. http://www.cruisecritic.com/news/news.cfm?ID=7498
Hawkes, Steve. “PORTS FACE CHECK HELL.” The Sun, 26 Jan 2017. Web. 03 Feb 2017. https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/2707697/government-must-hire-thousands-of-staff-to-avoid-post-brexit-customs-collapse-haulage-bosses-warn/
Leposa, Adam. “Friday Briefing: Five Travel Trends to Watch in 2017.” Travel Agent Central, 27 Jan 2017. Web. 03 Feb 2017. http://www.travelagentcentral.com/running-your-business/five-travel-trends-to-watch-2017
“Manila to Homeport its First Cruise Ship.” The Maritime Executive, 15 Jan 2017. Web. 03 Feb 2017. http://www.maritime-executive.com/article/manila-to-homeport-its-first-cruise-ship
“NGOs Criticize IMO for Opposing EU Carbon Plan.” The Maritime Executive, 11 Jan 2017. Web. 02 Feb 2017. http://www.maritime-executive.com/article/ngos-criticize-imo-for-opposing-eu-carbon-plan
Shead, Sam. “Amazon has entered the trillion dollar ocean freight business.” Business Insider, 26 Jan 2017. Web. 02 Feb 2017. http://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-entered-shipping-industry-freight-china-2017-1
Smith, David. “Trump withdraws from Trans-Pacific Partnership amid flurry of orders.” The Guardian, 23 Jan 2017. Web. 03 Feb 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/23/donald-trump-first-orders-trans-pacific-partnership-tpp
Walker, Jim. “RCCL to Hire 30,000 Filipino Crew Members Over Next Five Years.” Jim Walkers’s Cruise Law News, 27 Jan 2016. Web. 02 Feb 2017. http://www.cruiselawnews.com/2016/01/articles/crew-news/rccl-to-hire-30000-filipino-crew-members-over-next-five-years/
Whitefield, Mimi, Amy Sherman and Patricia Mazzezi. “Cuban delegation arrives amid threats by Gov. Scott to cut funding to ports that sign pacts.” Miami Herald, 26 Jan 2017. Web. 02 Feb 2017. http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/broward/article128866679.html
Ye, Josh. “Chinese cruise ship ‘stuck at sea for two days in smog’.” South China Morning Post, 04 Jan 2017. Web. 03 Feb 2017. http://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/2059214/chinese-cruise-ship-stuck-sea-two-days-smog
Zorthian, Julia. “Amazon Has Quietly Ventured Into the Ocean Freight Business.” Fortune.com, 27 Jan 2017. Web. 02 Feb 2017. http://fortune.com/2017/01/26/amazon-ocean-freight-business/