Five top global container shipping companies plan to set up association with the purpose of paving the way for digitalisation, standardisation and interoperability in the container shipping industry.
A press release on November 15, said the companies — A.P. Moller – Maersk, CMA CGM, Hapag-Lloyd, MSC and Ocean Network Express — plan to establish container shipping association.
Speaking in an interview with the Shipping from Nigeria, Maersk Africa Communication Manager Augustine Fischer said talks are ongoing on the creation of the association.
The release said IT executives from the five shipping companies are currently discussing the creation of common information technology standards which will be openly available and free of charge for all stakeholders of the wider container shipping industry.
“It’s in the customers' and all stakeholders’ best interest, if container shipping companies operate with a common set of information technology standards,” said André Simha, CIO of MSC and spokesperson of the group.
“We are striving for less red tape and better transparency. The timing is right as emerging technologies create new customer-friendly opportunities.
Together, we gain traction in delivering technological breakthroughs and services to our customers compared to working in our own closed silos,” he added.
The five are among the 30 world global renowned shipping container lines with huge global presence.
The statement further said whilst the shipping industry already has multiple organisations and associations, the members of the group identified a need for a neutral and non-profit body for ocean carriers that is driven by delivering benefits for the industry and its stakeholders.
“That is why we will also welcome new members with open arms to join the association,” Mr Simha added.
The companies said the association does not intend to develop or operate any digital platform, but aims to ensure interoperability through standardisation.
“Similarly, the association will not discuss any commercial or operational matters,” the statement said.
The intended information of the association comes at a time when the recent Review of Maritime Transport (2018) report by The United Nation Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) listed Maersk line as the top global container line, ahead of Mediterranean Shipping company (MSC).
According to the UNCATD report, by June Maersk had recorded a total of 700 ships owning 300 and while 400 were chartered.
“Maersk Line carried a total of 3,879 439 twenty foot equivalent units(Teus) a market share of 15.3 per cent with its share of chartered ships standing at 42.9 per cent,” said the report.
Mediterranean Shipping company (MSC) had a total of 473 ships, 319 chartered and 154 owned. The line further carried a total of 3,118 108 Teus, controlled a market share of 12.3 per cent with its share of chartered ships standing at 66.9 per cent.
CMA CGM had a total of 476 ships, owned 147 and chartered 329. The line also carried a total of 2, 554 264 teus, controlling a market share of 10.1 per cent teus, with a share of chartered ships standing at 55.7 per cent.
China Ocean Shipping Group company had a total of Sh330 ships, 156 owned and 174 chartered. It carried a total of 1,972 491 Teus with a market share of 7.8 per cent Teus and a share of the chartered ships standing at 39.4 per cent.
Hapag-Lloyd Ocean Network had a total of 217 ships, with 105 owned and 112 chartered ships. The line carried a total 1,550 874 Teus, controlling a 6.1 percent of the total Teus market and the share of chartered ships stood at 35.5 per cent.
The plan by the five shipping lines to introduce tech standards has been welcomed by a section of the players in the marine and logistics in Mombasa.
Speaking in Mombasa, Intergovernmental Standing Committee on Shipping (ISCOS) acting secretary General Kassim Mpaata said the idea of the association is fine but the shipping lines must not use it to intimidate other lines that are also in the same trade.
“We welcome it since it will mean boding together the shipping industry and shaping it to greater heights. However, that association must not be used to sideline or undermine other container lines. If that happens then it will not be good for the industry,” Mr Kassim said.
The association in its release said it will not interfere with the normal global trading and hence it will only be concentrating on digitizing the global shipping business.