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Shipping needs to focus on its place in the wider world: Citi’s Parker

Top shipping banker Michael Parker says shipowners need to look at the “bigger picture” of the industry or face being marginalized.

Parker, chairman, global logistics and offshore for Citi, examined the place of shipping in the wider world in a keynote speech at the Norwegian and Hellenic Chambers of Commerce conference themed “Shipping Beyond 2020” held in New York.

He explained that maritime interests have a choice between focusing narrowly on “the ship”, in which case they will become marginalized, or they could look at the industry’s place in the context of larger supply chains.

Looking at broader themes, he suggested that shipping has not been a big jobs creator and has, therefore, lacked political power.

Parker, the driving force behind “The Poseidon Principles” suggested that the business - which “enables every other industry to do its business” - could play a pivotal role in the greening of world trade. In so doing, it can gain power as transparency, fueled by digitalization and better data, starts to become the norm.

He alluded to efforts by major cargo interests to gain better insights into the emissions of individual vessels that they charter- which would have a direct impact on the profitability of vessels, an obvious concern to the banking community- which reports on emissions of the overall shipping portfolio. Vessel decarbonisation efforts will have costs attached, on the order of 13% of a $2 trillion (with a “T”) overall bill.

Parker said, “It’s about scaling up…this is the greatest opportunity this industry has had to stop building un-needed ships.” In the process, he predicted that more consolidation will occur and the bottom line that the industry would become attractive to outside investors.

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