WORLD SHIPPING COUNCIL STRESSES BUSINESS, TRADE ISSUES FOR 2001
The World Shipping Council, an organization of 31 ocean carriers, said it will focus on nuts-and-bolts business and trade issues next year, despite the likelihood of continued efforts in the United States and Europe to curtail ocean carriers' antitrust immunity.
“The most pressing issues for shipping lines are the business demands of finding a path to sustainable profitability, satisfying customer needs, planning for the huge capital investments necessary to keep up with the growth in world trade, and determining the most effective use of information technology to improve business efficiency and customer satisfaction,” said Chris Koch, WSC president.
It will take “tens of billions of dollars” of new capital for the ocean liner industry to build new tonnage that will be required to serve the growing demands of world trade, Koch said.
To this end, improvements and investments in the U.S. transportation infrastructure will be required to serve the forecasted trade growth, he said. This will require coordination and planning among ports, shipping lines, railroads and trucking interests.
Koch does not expect any major changes in the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, despite an expected move by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde to reintroduce legislation next year that would end ocean carriers’ antitrust immunity to set or voluntarily agree on rates.
Shippers benefit from low cost shipping in the liner arena, Koch said. For example, it cost about 40 cents to transport a pair of sneakers from Taiwan to the U.S. West Coast, about 70 cents to transport a VCR from Hong Kong to the West Coast, he noted. And for a bottle of wine or spirits moving from Europe, the transportation cost is less than 1 percent of its price, he added.
“The liner industry has shrunk the world for businesses everywhere, making transportation the easiest and often the least expensive part of a company’s decision to expand into global markets,” he said.