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India Shipping Summit 2009 gets off to a flying start

India Shipping Summit 2009 gets off to a flying start

Mumbai: The fifth annual Indian Shipping Summit showcased the continuing potential of the country's maritime sector in the face of the economic slowdown. The event, held at Mumbai's Grand Hyatt Hotel from 20-22nd of October, provided a platform for interaction between over 450 representatives from the domestic and international maritime industries.

The opening session of the two day conference kicked off with a fiery debate about governmental incentives needed to revitalise the Indian shipping industry. Panellists SCI chairman and md Sabyasachi Hajara and Varun Shipping chairman and md Yudishthir Khatau both spoke of the need for enforcement of cabotage rules that will see transport of coastal trade exclusively by Indian flagged vessels. They also asked for preference to be given to local shipping companies for EXIM trade.

'We are not asking for a hand out, but just to have some sort of edge to make us competitive with international companies,' Hajara said. 'The economic crisis has meant that many countries have implemented protectionist measures to ensure that their shipping industry remains financially viable and the time has come for our government to consider the same.'

Khatau, who gave an impassioned speech comparing Indian shipowners to endangered tigers, pinpointed issues such as unfavourable ship and debt finance conditions, the infamous 'dirty dozen' taxes that cripple Indian shipowners and the lack of protectionist policies by the government. 'We need these to be implemented to level the playing field with international companies,' he warned, adding that these issues have prevented foreign investment in the Indian maritime sector ?" a view backed up by Tobias Koenig, who issued a call to action. 'India doesn't need a think tank,' he exclaimed, 'you need a do tank!'

Attendees also benefited from a wider overview from presentations by Standard Chartered's head of ship finance Nigel Anton and Clarkson Research Services md Dr Martin Stopford, with the latter outlining potential solutions to the 'toxic orderbook' situation faced by world shipyards.

The afternoon sessions, held simultaneously, tacked the vital topics of challenges in finance and management and issues currently faced by container and break bulk shipping. Visitors were particularly impressed by presentations form Vijay Chhibber additional secretary and financial advisor for the Indian ministry of Shipping as well as one by Alderman Ian Luder, the Lord Mayor of London.  [21/10/09]