Greek shipowners call for measures to help sector tackle COVID-19 impact

Source: Xinhua| 2020-09-09 00:20:29|Editor: huaxia

ATHENS, Sept. 8 (Xinhua) -- In its Annual Report 2019-2020, the Union of Greek Greek Shipowners (UGS) is calling for measures to help the sector deal with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Greek newspaper "Kathimerini" reported on Tuesday.

"Shipping has inevitably also been hit by the global economic and trade shocks caused by the pandemic, resulting in a major deterioration of the freight markets, where there has been a drastic drop in freight rates and in demand for maritime transport services to almost zero for some categories of ships," UGS President Theodore Veniamis said.

"Therefore, the sustainability of shipping companies must be urgently ensured, a basic prerequisite of which is guaranteeing their liquidity and granting flexibility for loan repayments," he stressed.

In 2019 the top five ship owning nations and regions were Greece, Japan, China, Singapore and China's Hong Kong and these five account for more than 50 percent of the world's tonnage, the report noted, citing data from the Review of Maritime Transport 2019 published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

The UGS said that the Greek shipping industry is "one of the cornerstones of the global economy and a major facilitator of global trade."

Although Greece accounts for only 0.16 percent of the world's population, Greek shipowners own 20.67 percent of global tonnage and the Greek-owned fleet is the world's largest cross-trading fleet, with more than 98 percent of its trading capacity carrying cargoes between third countries, according to Lloyd's List Maritime Intelligence 2016, the report noted.

The pace of global economic activity remained slow throughout 2019, with declining momentum in manufacturing activity and rising trade and geopolitical tensions, the UGS noted.

The unprecedented global crisis that was brought about by the coronavirus pandemic has made the 2020 outlook for the global economy and international seaborne trade even more precarious and gloomy, with the World Trade Organization (WTO), for example, forecasting that the world trade is expected to fall by between 13 percent and 32 percent this year, according to the report.

Many shipping sectors have been faced with a sudden and steep drop in demand, which in turn has considerably affected freight rates and earnings.

"Though these rates could recover somewhat as Chinese factories come back online, the looming global recession and accompanying drop in global demand resulting from the lockdowns in Europe and north America have severely impacted on demand for shipping services. ... The recession in shipping is projected to last more than a year and shipping activity is not expected to improve in the following few months," the UGS stressed.

The report said that shipping remains one of the pillars of the Greek economy. The shipping industry's total economic contribution, including indirect and induced effects, exceeded 11 billion euros (13 billion U.S. dollars) in 2019, accounting for 6.6 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), according to a Deloitte study released in February. (1 euro= 1.18 U.S. dollars) Enditem