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Roland Magunia
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New Ideas for the Shipping Industry

“Let’s meet in Hamburg!” The International Association of Maritime Economists (IAME) held its annual conference in Germany for the first time, hosting a record number of 276 guests from all over the world.

“The shipping crisis of the last seven years has made only too clear” explained Prof. Dr. Orestis Shinas from HSBA Hamburg School of Business Administration, “that the business models of the past are not enough to sustain the shipping industry into the future.” Today, it is not just about transporting something from A to B. Successful business models must do more to answer the complex challenges being faced, particularly given the significant changes that have taken place in the market. Up until 2008, approximately 60% of all shipping products were financed by German banks. Today, China is number one, while German and European banks have largely withdrawn from shipping finance.

“’Go it alone’ concepts no longer work” is Schinas’ conclusion. “We can no longer have no purely German or purely Greek shipping companies. Shipping companies must become increasingly international, both in terms of cooperation as well as in terms of their staff.” Additionally, the digitalisation of processes has become a pressing need. Due to the expense of satellite transmission, many ships are not yet equipped with Wi-Fi, but yet ships today must be able to receive important documentation from harbour authorities and terminals before they arrive. The need to provide environmentally conscious transportation is also a major consideration.

Professor Michele Acciaro from the Kühne Logistics University (KLU) put it very clearly: “Companies in the maritime sector must innovate to survive.” That is not just a reference to the shipping companies themselves, but also to the terminal operators, harbour authorities and freight forwarding agencies that work with hinterland freight transport. One KLU study showed that the many sectors of the industry are not only willing to innovate, but have already started. “The only thing we are lacking” according to Acciaro, “is the development of a clear corporate strategy to which our innovations can be aligned.”

According to Schinas, “shipping is going through a sea-change”. The conference, organised in col-laboration with HSBA and KLU, was designed to present this change meaningfully for maritime industries. The almost 200 presentations discussed matters of harbour policies, hinterland logistics, cruise shipping, financing opportunities, modern management methods, environmentally friendly shipping traffic and new technologies on board.

To summarise his impressions of the conference, Commerce Minister Frank Korch said:

"The Hamburg harbour is in a process of constant change – we are ready to take on the newest developments in the shipping industry. The IAME annual conference provides us with important motivation to further develop shipping and the Hamburg harbour."

About the IAME International Association of Maritime Economists

Founded in 1990, the International Association of Maritime Economists (IAME) has developed into the most prominent global platform for shipping industry experts. The most important event of the Association’s year is the annual conference, which brings shipping industry specialists from all over the world together to exchange information and the latest developments in maritime research.

This year, the conference took place in Hamburg for the first time. The focus of the conference was “The maritime transport of the future: the role of innovation uptake, sustainability and availability of shipping finance”.

The four day event took place at the Kühne Logistics University and HSBA Hamburg School of Business Administration campuses, and included lectures and workshops as well as an interesting side programme. 



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