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Your brief for the week  
Mon 27th August 

1. An Arctic Adventure

Some of you may have spotted the headline last week that Maersk is sending the first ever container ship through the Russian Arctic.  A first of anything is always quite newsworthy – but when it’s the world’s largest container shipping company exploring new trade routes, you can rest assured that its competitors, and the industry alike, sit up and take notice. 

Maersk has been pretty clear that the Venta Maersk’s Arctic adventure is very much a trial journey, and not a commercial transit.  It has also said it does not plan to launch any commercial shipping services via the Arctic any time soon. 

Don’t forget the route does remain relatively risky and there are high costs involved.  However, Maersk did say that it would be gathering voyage data from the journey, which could feed into any future plans for commercial container shipping services in the Arctic that it might wish to offer – and that is something worth keeping an eye on.

2. Trade war tensions

Speaking of potential new trade lanes… It looks like vessel operators will need to be nimble to meet demand from new trade lanes if the trade tension between China and the US continues to escalate. The latest round of tariffs imposed end-August have pushed the total values of affected goods in US-China trade to over $100bn. Goods hit by these tariffs include steel, aluminium, agricultural goods, soybeans and Liquefied Petroleum Gas, among others. This affects vessel owners across the three main types: containers, dry bulk and tankers. It is also led to an uptick in exporters seeking trade insurance cover.

Now, at present goods affected by the tariffs remain a small percentage of global trade and a small percentage of seaborne trade, but some analysts worry that there could be more to come. Which will mean vessel owners and operators will have to reposition their vessels quickly to meet demand from cargo owners.

You might have also spotted US president Donald Trump making positive noises about renegotiation of the NAFTA trade agreement with Mexico (and Canada) this week. NAFTA mostly affects land transportation such as trucking and rail, but there is some seaborne trade too. You may wish to revisit our analysis of the risks and opportunities of renegotiating that trade agreement published late last year.

Trade war rhetoric sparks uptick in request for cover

Shipping faces up to trade wars
Trade ‘jitters’ impact container port throughput
Shipping may gain from Mexico grain pain


3. Brexit bungle

While most of us in the UK are thoroughly sick to the back teeth on Brexit, it is helping our journalists during the traditional summer story slump... On Thursday, the British government started the publication of a series of technical notes, or advice to businesses, in the event of leaving the EU without a deal. It looks likely that Britain will cut import checks at UK ports to a bare minimum to prevent waterfront chaos in the event of a no deal Brexit. The worry is, of course, that a hard border with the EU would lead to traffic gridlock around ports such as Dover and Harwich. The talk is that trucks could be waved through ferry ports pretty much as now, with any necessary customs clearance handled inland. That would likely be a short term stop gap and huge investment in port infrastructure to enable full customs checks in future would be needed. Like anything Brexit-related, no-one really knows what will happen. But it’s definitely a talking point for UK importers and exporters right now.

Britain will clear truck freight inland after no-deal Brexit, ports sources believe
UK Chamber chief says ‘no-deal’ Brexit would have ‘huge’ impact on trade


4. Three elements of maritime efficiency

The Lloyd's List Business Briefing at SMM discusses not only how technology, regulation, and the human element can impact maritime efficiency, but also how they make an ever-greater impact when working in harmony.

Next generation technology will play an increasingly significant part in upgrading maritime efficiency. However, as the Lloyd's List SMM Business Briefing will reveal, technology can be even more effective when working alongside a better understanding of the regulatory environment, and the needs of tomorrow's seafarers and shore teams.

This Three Elements of Efficiency briefing will run on the afternoon of Thursday September 6 in the Messe’s Marseille Room. It will be moderated by Lloyd’s List Chief Correspondent Richard Clayton, with Mwani Qatar as Headline Sponsor.

The Lloyd’s List Three Elements briefing puts maritime technology alongside Regulation and the Human Element and finds that none of the disciplines has all the answers.

If you are attending SMM and would like to attend the Three elements of maritime efficiency, please click here to register for free.

Why there are Three Elements to maritime efficiency


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