BRITISH Shipping Minister Robert Goodwill all but condemned the US Jones Act as "blatant protectionism" when told his mirthful audience at London's International Shipping Week that "my official position has to be very careful not to describe the Jones Act as a blatant piece of protectionism".
In blasting regional restrictive legislation, Mr Goodwill argued: "Shipping works best when it is allowed to work on its own terms, and when it prospers, it adds to the wealth of nations.
"Consider the sophistication of the modern shipping trade, with its complex supply chains and just-in-time logistics. The endless movements of millions of containers around the world. No government could design such a system, let alone manage it or improve it," Mr Goodwill said.
"The way to protect your shipbuilding industry is to produce the best ships in the world and sell them round the world, as the Koreans and Chinese have been showing us. We demonstrated here in the UK in the ?0s and ?0s what happens if you don't build the best ships in the world," he said.
But US Maritime Administration (MARAD) chief Paul Jaenichen defended the Jones Act, reported Seatrade Maritime News.
"Every presidential administration for the last 90 years has supported the Jones Act and there's a reason for that. We have to have a US merchant marine, and the Jones Act is one way to maintain that, but also make sure that we continue to have an indigenous shipbuilding capacity and commercial base that supports not only commercial shipbuilding but also naval ships," Mr Jaenichen said.
Euronav CEO Paddy Rodgers said that public listing would be one way shipping companies could garner more understanding in governments. "At the moment we're not invested with any particular countries, so it's very easy for shipping to become a whipping boy," he said.
"When environmental legislation is introduced, you have to look at who benefits from that legislation. When a reduction in China's coal usage was announced, oil majors were rubbing their hands together.
Said Wah Kwong Maritime Holdings chairwoman Sabrina Chao: "We're all for environmental changes, but they need to take place in a level playing field. There's a disconnect between legislation and technology. For example the ballast water treatment ? it's unclear for shipowners operating in a very complicated environment. There needs to be a level playing field."
Source : HKSG.