South Korean government is launching a corporate restructuring plan targeting its financially-troubled industries, including its shipping and shipbuilding sectors.
The move comes amid the need to push harder the restructuring of vulnerable industries hit by a global slowdown to reduce overcapacity and boost long competitiveness, especially since business conditions have continuously deteriorated.
In a three-track plan revealed by the country's financial regulator, the Financial Services Commission explained the steps to be taken to help the distressed companies.
Under the plan, a consultative body of government officials would set a direction for groups proceeding with restructuring, companies would be sorted out through credit evaluations and industries with overcapacity restructuring and reshuffling would be encouraged to carry out voluntary and preemptive reshuffling.
Specifically, with respect to the country's big 3 shipbuilders, the regulator said that Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine (DSME) will be required to submit layoffs and cost savings. The shipbuilder's counterparts Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) and Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) would have to pursue self-rescue plans with their creditor banks.
With respect to shipping, Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) is to be provided with support for business normalization from creditors, strike a deal with ship owners to lower charter rates and reach an agreement with bondholders to restructure the debt.
On the other hand, Hanjin Shipping applied for a debt restructuring agreement with creditors on April 25. The creditor group will review the proposal and make a decision on whether it will initiate the procedure or not.
As disclosed, the procedure will proceed in accordance with the same principle applied to HMM.
The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has approved mandatory requirements for ships to record and report their fuel consumption, in a move that sends a clear and positive signal about the Organization's continuing commitment to climate change mitigation.
The mandatory data collection system is intended to be the first in a three-step process in which analysis of the data collected would provide the basis for an objective, transparent and inclusive policy debate in the MEPC. This would allow a decision to be made on whether any further measures are needed to enhance energy efficiency and address greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping. If so, proposed policy options would then be considered.
Under the system, ships of 5,000 gross tonnage and above will be required to collect consumption data for each type of fuel they use, as well as other, additional, specified data including proxies for transport work. The aggregated data will be reported to the flag State after the end of each calendar year and the flag State, having determined that the data has been reported in accordance with the requirements, will issue a Statement of Compliance to the ship. Flag States will be required to subsequently transfer this data to the IMO Ship Fuel Consumption Database.
IMO would be required to produce an annual report to the MEPC, summarizing the data collected. Data would be anonymized so individual ship data would not be recognized.
The draft mandatory data collection requirements will be put forward for adoption at the 70th MEPC session this October and could take effect in 2018.
The data collection system is enshrined in draft amendments to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), which were approved by the 69th session of the MEPC, meeting at IMO Headquarters in London last week.
Following a wide-ranging discussion on future work to further address greenhouse gas emissions from ships, the Committee agreed to hold a working group at MEPC 70 for an in-depth debate.
The MEPC welcomed the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and recognized it as a major achievement by the international community. It also unanimously recognized IMO's own role in mitigating the impact of GHG emissions from international shipping and acknowledged the current efforts and the measures already introduced by IMO to enhance the energy efficiency of ships.
IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim hailed the approval of the data collection amendments as a significant contribution to the ongoing work by the international community to mitigate climate change, and welcomed the positive spirit in which Member states had approached the discussion.
"It has been very encouraging to see States which had previously found it difficult to reach binding agreement on climate change measures bring the spirit of the Paris Agreement to IMO this week. The unanimous agreement to take forward a mandatory data collection system for ships' fuel consumption is a significant step. It will provide a solid basis on which to consider, armed with information, whether further measures may be required in future to mitigate GHG emissions from shipping," said Mr Lim.
He added, "I would like to commend the Member States of IMO for once again showing their willingness to work collaboratively for the greater good. On World Earth Day, and the day the Paris Agreement is being signed by world leaders in New York, we are pleased to announce another of IMO's continuing efforts to protect the world's oceans and climate."
To date, IMO is the only Organization to have adopted energy-efficiency measures that are legally binding across an entire global industry. Mandatory energy efficiency standards for new ships, and mandatory operational measures to reduce emissions from existing ships, entered into force in 2013, as amendments to MARPOL Annex VI. Thanks to those new measures, by 2025 all new ships built will be 30% more energy efficient than those built in 2013.
The European Community Shipowners' Association (ECSA) is calling upon the EU Member States to give their support to global CO2 agenda for shipping.
From April 14 to 15, EU Transport and Environment Ministers are meeting in Amsterdam for an informal joint Council meeting under the Dutch Presidency. The discussion revolves around on how Member States could make a positive and constructive contribution to achieve an international framework of CO2 reduction commitments.
Niels Smedegaard, ECSA President points out that European shipowners fully support the initiative of the Dutch Presidency. "The shipping industry endorses the Paris agreement on climate change and we are committed to ambitious CO2 emission reductions across the world merchant fleet. With the shipping industry's support, Member States of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) will be able to develop meaningful CO2 reduction commitments for the international shipping sector as a whole that are both ambitious and realistic," says Smedegaard.
In addition, the EU Parliament is also requesting from EU governments to match Paris ambition on ships.
In a letter sent to Europe's ministers of transport and environment, the heads of seven political groups of the Parliament's environment committee also demanded greater climate ambition at both ICAO and IMO, the UN bodies charged with regulating emissions from aircraft and ships respectively, and at EU level.
The calls come ahead of the 69th session of the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) session, which takes place next week in London.
The shipping industry wants IMO to establish a mandatory global system of data collection from individual ships by the end of 2016, according to ECSA. The system is to be the central topic during the MEPC's session.
"We believe that this system should have mandatory application," says ECSA Secretary General Patrick Verhoeven, adding that a decision in IMO should come forward in 2016 so that vessels can provide the required data as soon as possible.
ECSA also supports the proposal of its international partner the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) for IMO Member States to adopt an intended IMO Determined Contribution, which focuses on CO2 emission reduction by the entire international shipping sector.
This would make IMO Member States and the shipping industry answerable to the international community, in the same way that governments committed to Intended National Determined Contributions (INDCs), ECSA explains. The adoption of an Intended IMO Determined Contribution would also make it clear that the reduction of the sector's CO2 emissions is being addressed robustly by IMO Member States, according to ECSA.
According to Transport & Environment, the CO2 from shipping account for some 3% of the global total.
"Having escaped explicit mention in the Paris deal, emissions from aviation and shipping still remain the two elephants in the climate room. Without ambitious action to reduce ship and aviation emissions both at EU and global levels, the world does not stand a chance of limiting global warming to 1.5°C," says Sotiris Raptis, Shipping policy officer at Transport & Environment.
Transport & Environment believes that emissions from ships and planes have been growing twice as fast as the rest of the global economy. Based on a scientific study published recently by the European Parliament, shipping and aviation could account for almost 4o% of the world's CO2 emissions in 2050.
India and the Republic of Korea have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for cooperation and mutual assistance in the development of ports.
The signing of the MoU is expected to help both countries encourage and facilitate the development of ports, port-related industry and maritime relationship, according to India's Ministry of Shipping.
The Ministry believes that the signing of the agreement will also enable both countries to share technology and experience in the above-mentioned fields, as well as to exchange information on construction, building, engineering and related aspects in port development.
The UN Security Council has decided to remove four ships from its blacklist of North Korean vessels following a request from China.
The Council said on Monday that the vessels in question are not economic resources controlled or operated by North Korean shipping company Ocean Maritime Management and "therefore not subject to the asset freeze".
The ships in question are JH 86 (IMO no. 8602531), JIN Tal (IMO no. 9163154), JIN TENG (IMO no. 9163166) and GRAND KARO (IMO no. 8511823).
"The Committee notes that new measures have been taken to establish confidence that these vessels are not operated or controlled by Ocean Maritime Management. In light of these measures, the Committee has therefore decided to remove these vessels from the list of those operated or controlled by Ocean Maritime Management," the UN said in a release.
China asked for the removal of the four vessels from the list on March 16, Reuters reports, claiming that they are not involved in the arms trade activities of OMM.
The four ships were part of UN Security Council's blacklist of 31 ships covered by severer sanctions against North Korea imposed following the country's ongoing nuclear and ballistic missile-related activities that "threaten international peace and security," the UN Security Council said.
Additionally, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted the harsher sanctions against the country on March 2, stating that all cargo going to and from the DPRK by sea or air will be inspected and any vessel suspected of carrying forbidden items will be denied entry into port.
In an effort to support the country's trade and economic growth, the government of India has relaxed cabotage restrictions for ports that transport at least 50 percent of the container volume they handle.
With the lifting of some cabotage restrictions, shipping lines will now be able to consolidate Indian EXIM and empty containers at transshipment ports in India for onward transportation to destination ports by main shipping lines.
Furthermore, foreign vessels will transport EXIM and empty containers from any port in India to a transshipment port and vice versa, in addition to Indian vessels.
"The spare capacity of the foreign flag ships which could not be utilized earlier due to cabotage restrictions will now be gainfully utilized enabling them to offer competitive container slot rates to exporters and importers leading to competition led efficiency in container transportation and lower logistic costs for the shippers," the government said in a statement.
The government added that the container port seeking cabotage relaxation for transshipment port would have to achieve transshipment of 50 percent or more of the EXIM and empty cargo handled in one year, while new transshipment ports will have a period of one year to achieve the transshipment traffic of 50 percent of the traffic handled in the second year in order to continue with cabotage relaxation.
India said that the relaxation would be annulled for ports which fail to transship the minimum required volume per year. These ports would not be considered for cabotage relaxation for next three years.
With an aim to boost shipbuilding in the country and attract investment in its maritime industry, the Government of Panama has presented a new bill dedicated to the development of the mentioned industries, according to the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP).
The bill focuses on fulfilling the country's need to establish shipyards that would be capable of constructing large ships in Panama, as well as creating an attractive environment for investment by ship financing entities.
The country, which has one Panamax-size shipyard focused on ship repairs, is looking to start building big vessels, namely containerships.
According to the authority, the country's geographical position favors the development of these activities which have not yet been exploited.
The country is currently testing all systems on its expanded Panama Canal project, which is in its final stages as the repairs on the leaks have been completed.
Panama Canal Administration (ACP) recently said that less than four percent remains to complete the overall project. The finished canal is expected to be inaugurated in the second quarter of 2016.
South Korea has moved to kickstart business among its shipyards and shipping lines. The Export-Import Bank of Korea (KEXIM) has released additional support measures which it describes as a "shipping-shipbuilding win-win model".
Debt limits will be extended, interest rates and commissions cut for local lines who chose to order at Korean yards. Furthermore, KEXIM will suspend its loan to value stipulations for a year in a bid to stimulate ordering.
The orderbooks at Korean yards are now at their lowest level for over a decade, while the recession in shipping has hit local owners harder than most other nations.
South Korea has inked an agreement with Iran on cooperation in the maritime field and fisheries.
Under the deal, the two countries have agreed to facilitate passage to each others' ships through their respective territorial waters, according to Korea's Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries.
The agreement paves way for US$5.4bn worth of investment from Korea into Iranian maritime projects, including port development as Iran is expected to experience a surge in cargo volumes.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), signed in Tehran during a recent visit from Korean officials, also provides for unimpeded rescue operations of the countries' ships.
The move comes as sanctions are lifted against Iran, which has been working strenuously ever since to return to the shipping market and reboot trade ties with international partners.
Moreover, the MoU is expected to provide seamless business activities to Korean shipping partners and promote bilateral trade.
The cooperation will also see Korean Ship Registry cooperate in the field of vessel inspection and classification services and marine engineering with its Iranian counterpart.
On Feb. 19, the Japanese government decided to impose sanctions on North Korea for its ongoing nuclear and ballistic missile-related activities. The sanctions include the ban of vessels having been in North Korea from entering Japanese ports.