COVID-19 Impact on Shipping | Shipping News: Covid -19 will have long lasting effects on the Maritime Industry and Seafarers: Capt Ashish Roy
Coronavirus is having a serious impact on the world economy. The businesses around the globe have been left to count the costs. Banking sector to Tourism industry – everyone is taking a hit. The after effects of this pandemic are still far from being estimated with global recession hovering over the head and unemployment estimated to hit a record high.
We got in touch with Capt Ashish Roy, and asked him about his views over the uncertainties caused by this global pandemic to the Maritime Industry.
> Question: Coming straight to the point, how, according to you, CoVid-19 has affected the Maritime Industry?
Answer: Obviously, CoVid-19 outbreak is an unprecedented situation which has taken the world by surprise. Global markets are suffering, people are suffering and dying, economies collapsing and we are slowly being thrown into a global recession. It had a major impact on the world shipping markets. As the virus originated from China, a slump is demand from China in cargoes is having a ripple effect on everything from oil tankers to container ships. Alternatively, the exports from mainland China have dropped significantly since February 2020 post Chinese New Year. For instance, Mid-february data from market intelligence service VesselsValue showed a radical drop in demand for Chinese crude tankers from an average of 3.4 billion tonne miles per day in 2019 to almost zero. Moreover, future of lot of cruise ships have been thrown into turmoil with tourism industry coming to a halt. VLOC’s, again, have taken blows due to reduced demand from China. For Capesizers, the market had been terrible anyway, and it’s gotten even worse with the virus breakout. I am not exaggerating, if i may say that China is the driver of the global shipping. But with pandemic hitting hard, the future is uncertain.
> Question: How do you think the Seafaring community is being affected by the pandemic?
Answer: Seafarers are on the receiving ends from both the sides. With every country enforcing the lockdown at a war level, thousands of Seafarers are stuck on board, unable to get back home and reunite with their families. On the other end, global supply chain is required to be kept running and seafarers are playing a huge role in it. However, they are being exposed to the infection directly and/or indirectly. I recently heard a reputed owner literally forcing the Master to discharge the cargo at a port where 40-50 stevedores were suppose to board the vessel in order to expedite the discharging operations. What’s more shocking was these stevedores were not being checked for infection and still the Owners were forcing the Master to carry out the operation. When the Master denied, Owners threatened Master and Crew. Master eventually asked the Flag State to intervene. So you can well imagine the plight of the Seafarers currently. They are undergoing acute mental and physical stress and shall be treated with utmost respect and compassion in current scenario. Although, relevant societies and organizations are working continuously in order to bring back our seafarers ‘home’, i hope that it is achieved sooner.
> Question: What do you think will be the future of Shipping Industry post CoVid-19?
Answer: The way Coronavirus is spreading like a wildfire, it is difficult to ascertain that when it can be brought to an end. However, one thing is certain, post the pandemic, the World will not be same anymore. IMF has already declared that global recession had arrived. So we can expect many industries getting a solid setback. Unemployment is what is on the cards. Post pandemic effects and damage control might focus on countries giving attention to local manufacturing rather than importing. However, it will not be immediate but that is what is likely the trend to be. Demand for goods will certainly decrease, oil prices are on their lowest since 2001 and with OPEC+ coming to an end the demand is again an all time low. In order to stop the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak, many countries across the world have started implementing very tough measures. Countries and world capital have been put under strict lockdown, bringing a total halt to major industrial production chains. It is being estimated that Container Shipping companies would be the first to bear the brunt of the global slowdown and may become the epicenter of the crisis in shipping industry. However, there is a silver lining. Shipping industry still is vital to run the global supply chain and will continue to do so. Post the pandemic, expect a tremendous disruption in the shipping industry particularly in the field of supply chain and logistics.