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08 Jul 2018

Salwa Canal Arab quartet’s face off with Qatar

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"The waterway, which will turn a peninsula into an island, will become a revenue generator and a tourism magnet for Saudi Arabia Few weeks ago, Saudi Arabia announced it was going ahead with its newest project, this time on the Arabian Gulf side. The Saudis aim to dig a massive water canal on their eastern border with Qatar, one kilometre from the official Saudi-Qatari border inside the kingdom. The canal is planned to be 60 kilometres long, 200 metres wide and up to 20 metres in depth. This 2.8 billion Saudi riyal (Dh2.74 billion) canal aims to bring two major effects to Saudi Arabia — political and economic. This seems to be a mini copy of the Suez Canal of Egypt that today brings in huge transit revenues to Egypt. Currently, the UAE has not announced any participation in developing the proposed Salwa Water Canal. But personally, I don’t rule out a possibility of participation by UAE-based developers in building the canal, especially given the experience of successfully launching and developing the Dubai Water Canal that was completed in record time. Economically, the canal is expected to bring in a considerable portion of sea trade and water tourism on the eastern shorelines of a fast-changing Saudi Arabia. The canal will house private beach villas, luxurious yacht piers, five-star hotels and resorts, sea ports on both banks, marina bays and other tourist attractions. The project will add thousands of jobs and act as a catalyst to Saudi economy. Water inflow will also help to create man-made coral reefs that will directly enhance tourism, under-water sports and maritime environment in that region. The canal will also serve as a direct and a shorter shipping line access between main UAE sea ports, Dammam and Bahrain, all the way to Kuwait and Basra — avoiding the sensitive sea route that cuts between Qatar and Iran. This in turn will translate into less fuel, less travel time and, more importantly, a safer sea route from the UAE to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Politically, this is a massive setback for Qatar and its regime that is already struggling to cope with the aftermath of a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) boycott. The canal physically and geographically isolates and cuts off Qatar from the rest of the mainland and GCC, turning Qatar from a peninsula to a little island. This will also seal Qatar’s only land border. Deep trenches are traditionally dug and used against enemy lines in war-like situations, and they have proved to be extremely effective and beneficial. I am not saying we are at war with Qatar yet. But, it seems all options are on the table with this canal coming into play in about 12 months. Let’s also not forget that Iranian and Turkish Forces are openly roaming around in Qatar, a move that has not been welcomed by Saudis, Emiratis and Bahrainis. The canal is like someone walking in from your front-yard and digging a massive cross-sectional trench that you cannot jump and cross. So you are stranded in your own house, which is on an island. It means cutting you off from the rest of your neighbourhood. To add to Qatari woes, Saudi Arabia has planned to establish an active military base in a hazardous nuclear waste dumping site on the Qatari side of the canal — which is still a Saudi territory. Salwa Canal is a very smart, strong, crisp but silent message of the anti-terror Quartet of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain to Qatar: That it needs to behave and stop harbouring terror and stop interfering in the internal affairs of other Arab countries. Else, there are plenty of options available that Doha would not even have imagined before. The canal is a win-win for Saudi Arabia. In case Qatar’s regime gives up and agrees to all the conditions laid down by the anti-terror quarter, even then the canal will serve as a revenue generator and a tourism magnet for Saudi Arabia. On the other hand, if Qatar prefers to maintain status-quo and the rift continues to grow between, the canal will act as a first line of defence for the Saudis, as it locks Qatar on an island. Dr Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said in a Tweet that Salwa Water Canal is an open proof of Qatar’s failure in managing and resolving diplomatic crisis. It is fair to say Qatar has lost its Salwa border-crossing. Hence Salwa “Maaku”. In other words — Salwa, no more Luis Vazquez/©Gulf News Few weeks ago, Saudi Arabia announced it was going ahead with its newest project, this time on the Arabian Gulf side. The Saudis aim to dig a massive water canal on their eastern border with Qatar, one kilometre from the official Saudi-Qatari border inside the kingdom. The canal is planned to be 60 kilometres long, 200 metres wide and up to 20 metres in depth. This 2.8 billion Saudi riyal (Dh2.74 billion) canal aims to bring two major effects to Saudi Arabia — political and economic. Saudi Arabia moves ahead with Salwa canal plan Saudi waterway to turn Qatar into island This seems to be a mini copy of the Suez Canal of Egypt that today brings in huge transit revenues to Egypt. Currently, the UAE has not announced any participation in developing the proposed Salwa Water Canal. But personally, I don’t rule out a possibility of participation by UAE-based developers in building the canal, especially given the experience of successfully launching and developing the Dubai Water Canal that was completed in record time. Economically, the canal is expected to bring in a considerable portion of sea trade and water tourism on the eastern shorelines of a fast-changing Saudi Arabia. The canal will house private beach villas, luxurious yacht piers, five-star hotels and resorts, sea ports on both banks, marina bays and other tourist attractions. The project will add thousands of jobs and act as a catalyst to Saudi economy. Water inflow will also help to create man-made coral reefs that will directly enhance tourism, under-water sports and maritime environment in that region. The canal will also serve as a direct and a shorter shipping line access between main UAE sea ports, Dammam and Bahrain, all the way to Kuwait and Basra — avoiding the sensitive sea route that cuts between Qatar and Iran. This in turn will translate into less fuel, less travel time and, more importantly, a safer sea route from the UAE to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Politically, this is a massive setback for Qatar and its regime that is already struggling to cope with the aftermath of a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) boycott. The canal physically and geographically isolates and cuts off Qatar from the rest of the mainland and GCC, turning Qatar from a peninsula to a little island. This will also seal Qatar’s only land border. Deep trenches are traditionally dug and used against enemy lines in war-like situations, and they have proved to be extremely effective and beneficial. I am not saying we are at war with Qatar yet. But, it seems all options are on the table with this canal coming into play in about 12 months. Let’s also not forget that Iranian and Turkish Forces are openly roaming around in Qatar, a move that has not been welcomed by Saudis, Emiratis and Bahrainis. The canal is like someone walking in from your front-yard and digging a massive cross-sectional trench that you cannot jump and cross. So you are stranded in your own house, which is on an island. It means cutting you off from the rest of your neighbourhood. To add to Qatari woes, Saudi Arabia has planned to establish an active military base in a hazardous nuclear waste dumping site on the Qatari side of the canal — which is still a Saudi territory. Salwa Canal is a very smart, strong, crisp but silent message of the anti-terror Quartet of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain to Qatar: That it needs to behave and stop harbouring terror and stop interfering in the internal affairs of other Arab countries. Else, there are plenty of options available that Doha would not even have imagined before. The canal is a win-win for Saudi Arabia. In case Qatar’s regime gives up and agrees to all the conditions laid down by the anti-terror quarter, even then the canal will serve as a revenue generator and a tourism magnet for Saudi Arabia. On the other hand, if Qatar prefers to maintain status-quo and the rift continues to grow between, the canal will act as a first line of defence for the Saudis, as it locks Qatar on an island. Dr Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said in a Tweet that Salwa Water Canal is an open proof of Qatar’s failure in managing and resolving diplomatic crisis. It is fair to say Qatar has lost its Salwa border-crossing. Hence Salwa “Maaku”. In other words — Salwa, no more "

28 Jun 2018

E.U. Reaches Deal on Migration at Summit

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"European Union leaders, after marathon talks overnight, announced early Friday that they had reached a compromise deal on migration, an issue that has created a political crisis and threatens to undermine the bloc. As Italy’s new populist government threatened to block progress on other, uncontroversial issues until the migration text was addressed to its satisfaction, European leaders thrashed out the topic for nine hours before finally reaching an agreement around 5 a.m. While details were sketchy, the leaders agreed in principle, at least, on how to shore up their external borders and create screening centers for migrants, to decide more quickly whether or not they are legitimate refugees. “We still have a lot of work to do to bridge the different views,” Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said after the discussions, which a senior European official described as sometimes virulent. The leaders agreed to establish voluntary screening centers on European soil, to ease the burden on countries like Italy, Spain and Greece where migrants first arrive and are registered. They also agreed to study setting up similar centers outside Europe, in North Africa, for example, to screen migrants before they arrive. Ms. Merkel had even more at stake than the Italians, under pressure from within her own government to solve the problem of migrants coming into Germany after having registered in other countries. The Italian concern has been to stop migrants from coming to Europe in the first place. Inside Europe, the proposed centers would house migrants until they are screened, with the idea of deciding their fate more efficiently and sending back those who do not qualify as refugees. But no country has so far volunteered to host such a center. Outside Europe, centers would be designed to reduce the number of migrants who risk the sea voyage to the Continent and to disrupt the black economy of people-smuggling. Those rescued at sea could be returned to those centers for screening, not brought to Europe. But again, it was not clear which African countries might agree to house such platforms, or whether they would be compatible with international law. Addressing the concerns in Germany about registered migrants moving within Europe to try to settle there, the European leaders simply promised to “take all necessary internal legislative and administrative measures to counter such movements.” The intent is to prevent the setting up of internal borders within the Schengen free-travel area, which could destroy the principle of borderless movement of people and goods. Whether that would be enough to satisfy Ms. Merkel’s critics at home remained to be seen. France was instrumental in trying to broker the agreement with Italy, which said it would block all agreements reached at this summit meeting until its concerns about migration were addressed. Early Friday, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said that “today Italy is no longer alone. We are satisfied.” One potential hurdle for the deal is the fact that the European Union has no uniform rules or procedures for asylum, making it unclear what rules would be applied in a screening center, whether inside or outside Europe. But setting up any such center would be a significant change from the current system, under which migrants must be screened in the European country where they first arrive and are registered. Before arriving in Brussels, Ms. Merkel warned that the issue of migration could make or break the European Union, delivering a passionate address to her Parliament. “Europe faces many challenges,” said Ms. Merkel. “But that of migration could become one that determines the fate of the European Union.” The summit meeting was originally supposed to focus on changes to solidify the euro and on Britain’s exit from the bloc. It swerved instead to migration, which has become politically fraught with the rise of populist, anti-immigrant parties — even as the number of migrants coming to Europe has fallen sharply. The new Italian government played hardball on Thursday, with Mr. Conte refusing to agree to joint conclusions on issues like digital innovation or defense cooperation until migration was dealt with. Italy has insisted on changing the regulations that govern migration into the European Union, saying that as a country of first landing, it has had enough. Italy has started to turn away ships that rescue migrants from the sea. Migrants Are on the Rise Around the World, and Myths About Them Are Shaping Attitudes Immigrants have often delivered economic benefits to the countries taking them in, but they have also upended the politics of the industrialized world — where the native-born often exaggerate their numbers and their needs. June 20, 2018 At the same time, Ms. Merkel faces an internal rebellion by Bavarian conservatives over immigration that threatens to bring down her government. Her Bavarian interior minister has warned that he will disobey her and establish a hard border with Austria unless she strikes a deal with European leaders to stem the flow of migrants into Germany. That standoff reflects the fraught politics of migration, with Bavarian conservatives facing a strong challenge from the far-right, anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany in state elections in October. So Ms. Merkel came to Brussels to reach the kind of accord on limiting migration that has slipped the grasp of European Union leaders for years. If she failed to reach an agreement that would allow her to turn back certain groups of migrants at the German border, the Bavarians could quit her government, a move that would most likely put her out of a job after almost 13 years as German leader and usher in months of uncertainty in the European Union’s most influential country. In front of a rowdy Parliament on Thursday, she essentially conflated her own fate with that of the union. Either Europe masters this challenge of migration, she said, and proves to other countries that “we are guided by values and that we rely on multilateralism, and not unilateralism,” or “no one will believe any more in our value system that made us so strong.” The president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, said before the summit meeting that the leaders should “focus on the E.U.’s external borders,” including screening centers, since the flow of migrants had slowed. Since 2015, Mr. Tusk said, “we have managed to stem the migration flow by 96 percent only because we decided to cooperate with third countries and to block illegal migration outside the E.U.” The alternative, he said, “would be a chaotically advancing closure of borders — also within the E.U. — as well as growing conflict among E.U. member states.” But given the tough stance on migration being taken by countries like Italy, Austria and Hungary, Mr. Tusk suggested, Europe needed to act. “Some may think I am too tough in my proposals on migration, but trust me,” he said. “If we don’t agree on them then you will see some really tough proposals from some really tough guys.” Ms. Merkel agreed, rejecting the idea of unilaterally turning back migrants at the border. Such a move would have ripple effects far beyond Germany, she warned, endangering the European project of border-free travel. Ms. Merkel’s pro-European stance and her decision to open Germany’s borders to more than 1.4 million migrants since 2015 have earned her a reputation as a defender of liberal values, while also making her the main target of far-right and populist forces across the Continent. Her address in Parliament on Thursday was unusually combative, and it was frequently interrupted by heckling from representatives of Alternative for Germany. The noise level was so high at one point that Ms. Merkel stopped and said: “My God. Really?” In Brussels, the Hungarian prime minister, Victor Orban, was characteristically harsh. “I think the people really request two things: First is, no more migrants in,” he said. The second, he said, would be the deportation of those who are already in Europe but do not qualify as refugees. “So that’s what the people want,” Mr. Orban said. “So I think in order to restore the European democracy, we have to move to that direction.” But there were words of support for Ms. Merkel from other leaders, including those of Spain and Luxembourg, whose prime minister, Xavier Bettel, said: “If we have countries saying this and that is a red line, we will never get an agreement. Legal immigration has to be the rule.” “There are so many people who arrived in different countries and then made their way to Germany,” Mr. Bettel continued. “I understand Germany says, ‘Why do we have to deal with everything?’” Charles Michel, the prime minister of Belgium, said that the discussion was a “very important moment” for Europe. “Do we or do we not want to protect the Schengen zone by finding solutions together in a European context to manage the refugees and migrants?” he asked, referring to the system that allows passport-free travel through much of Europe. "

27 Jun 2018

MEPSEAS project launched to protect South-East Asia marine environment

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"Seven ASEAN countries have formally launched an ambitious initiative aimed at improving the environmental health of the seas in the region, through the implementation of key International Maritime Organization (IMO) marine environment protection treaties. Senior decisions makers of maritime administrations of the beneficiary ASEAN countries (Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam) met for their first high-level regional meeting in Bali, Indonesia (25-27 June), to kick-start the “Marine Environment Protection for Southeast Asia Seas (MEPSEAS) Project”. IMO is implementing the project, with funding from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad). The ASEAN Maritime Transport Working Group (ASEAN MTWG), the highest regional policy making body dealing with maritime matters in the region, will act as the advisory body for the MEPSEAS project. The four-year MEPSEAS project (2018-2021) will focus on enhancing the countries’ capacity to implement a number of high-priority treaties, including the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL); the Anti-Fouling Systems Convention; the London dumping of wastes at sea convention and protocol; and the Ballast Water Management Convention. The high-level meeting, supported by IMO, was also attended by project strategic partners (Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA); Women in Maritime Asia (WIMA ASIA); and the Tokyo MOU regional port State control (PSC) organization); non-beneficiary partner countries, including Singapore; and shipping industry representatives. Opening the meeting, Mr. R. Agus H. Purnomo, Director General for Sea Transportation under Ministry of Transportation, Government of Republic of Indonesia, said that the MEPSEAS project provided an opportunity for the countries to tackle the risks the marine environment faced in the region and support sustainable growth in the maritime sector. “We should work together to ensure a continued and strengthened contribution towards a green economy and growth and to protect our marine environment in a sustainable manner. Our active involvement through the MEPSEAS project will prove that we have the same commitment to protect our marine environment,” Mr. Purnomo said. The meeting plans to agree a Project Work Plan and regional coordination and information sharing arrangements. The MEPSEAS project will promote national legal and policy developments and related capacity building in port and flag state inspections to support enforcement of the selected Conventions. The Project is also expected to support specific port biological baseline survey training, the Green Shipping-Green Port-Green Shipyards (GGG) initiative of the Philippines and the holding of a regional maritime technology conference, among other activities. The MEPSEAS project will build on a previous IMO-Norad foundation project which directly led to the six countries concerned (Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam) making substantial progress in implementing or acceding to IMO environmental treaties. The latest country to join the project is Myanmar, which aims to initiate actions to accede to and implement two marine environmental Conventions in the near future. For countries which have acceded to the relevant treaties, the new MEPSEAS project will allow them to focus on effective implementation. “The MEPSEAS project is a clear demonstration of the continued commitment of the ASEAN countries to move towards a sustainable maritime transport system and to address significant marine environmental issues,” said Jose Matheickal, Deputy Director (Major Projects) of IMO. “The IMO-Norad foundation project was a remarkable success and IMO is once again very proud to partner with Norad, the ASEAN countries and all the strategic partners to build on the foundation project in a regionally-coordinated way,” Mr. Matheickal said. IMO was also represented at the meeting by Ms. Josephine Uranza, who is based in the IMO regional office in Manila, Philippines, and Ms Brenda Pimentel, IMO regional project consultant."

26 Jun 2018

Liberia underlines commitment to seafarer wellbeing on IMO Day of the Seafarer

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"The Liberian Registry has underlined its commitment to protecting the welfare of seafarers on the occasion of the International Maritime Organization’s Day of the Seafarer, which this year takes ‘seafarer wellbeing’, and mental health in particular, as its theme. Scott Bergeron, CEO of the Liberian International Ship & Corporate Registry (LISCR), the US-based manager of the Liberian Registry, says, “Our seafarers are the lifeblood of our industry. Without them, shipping is nothing, and yet their commitment and efficiency is such that the industry is sometimes in danger of taking them for granted. It is therefore right that IMO should dedicate a specific day each year to recognise this remarkably dedicated workforce, and to highlight the issues they face on a daily basis. “The Liberian Registry is dedicated to protecting the welfare of seafarers and to ensuring that the maritime industry maintains its commitment to promoting greater understanding of mental health concerns and awareness of the issues facing all onboard personnel. There are over 270,000 active seafarers who are certified by Liberia, of which nearly 100,000 are currently employed on Liberian-flagged ships. In addition, Liberia has taken a leading role in ratifying, implementing and overseeing the application of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC 2006). “Everything we do, from our everyday operations to the ongoing development of technical innovation, is designed with the interests of our seafarers in mind. Moreover, our MLC 2006 training programme for Liberian inspectors includes a module on seafarer welfare, developed in co-operation with The Mission to Seafarers, an organisation with which the Liberian Registry enjoys an excellent and highly productive relationship. “In addition, The Ethiopian Maritime Training Institute (EMTI S.C), part of YCF Group, the parent organisation of LISCR, has successfully trained thousands of cadets and officers, who are now employed on vessels around the world. LISCR also manages the Liberia Maritime Training Institute (LMTI), which opened earlier this year. “Whatever advances are made in shipping over the coming years, the maritime workforce will remain the industry’s biggest and most valuable asset. Liberia is dedicated to protecting the interests of that workforce, on IMO’s Day of the Seafarer and on every other day.” ? Gerard Kenny, Technical Manager of LISCR’s offices in London, recently completed the 106km NightRider charity bike ride around London as a member of the IMO team raising funds for The Mission to Seafarers. He says, “Needless to say, I’m feeling rather fragile and a little weary today, but that’s nothing compared to what seafarers go through every day over prolonged periods at sea.” ??The Liberian Registry has a long-established track record of combining the highest standards of safety for vessels and crews with the highest levels of responsive and innovative service to owners. Moreover, it has a well-deserved reputation for supporting international legislation designed to maintain and improve the safety and effectiveness of the shipping industry and protection of the marine environment."

25 Jun 2018

Blockchain on the High Seas and the Future of Trillion Dollar Shipping

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"On January 18th, 2018 shipping and logistics giant Maersk and IBM announced their intent to establish a joint venture. The aim was to provide more efficient and secure methods for conducting global trade, using blockchain technology. “The potential from offering a neutral, open digital platform for safe and easy ways of exchanging information is huge, and all players across the supply chain stand to benefit.” – Vincent Clerc, Maersk Chief Commercial Officer & Future Chairman of the board In the traditional shipping world of signed & stamped cargo and freight documents, implementing change through advanced technology is a game-changer for all involved parties. Shipping has always been steeped in tradition, where verbal agreements were firm contracts, and now in the 21st century, the shipping world is finally entering the digital age. It is slowly adapting to the super-fast financial transaction systems of the digital world. Maersk will have a distinct comparative advantage to the late-comers in container shipping, because it is establishing a permissioned DLT (distributed ledger technology) platform which, while being “open”, will be governed by Maersk and other key players, as well as by leading maritime institutions and related authorities. Many other blockchain platforms are on the horizon, but being the first mover gives Maersk and IBM the comparative advantage. Denmark Leads Blockchain in Shipping The EU recently issued a declaration, stating that 24 member states will join the EU Blockchain partnership to support the establishment of blockchain standards and solutions. Denmark, a traditional maritime nation and major shipping hub, has declared that it will be the first country in the world to register ships using blockchain. Brian Mikkelsen, the Danish Minister for Industry, Business and Financial Affairs stated: “Blockchain goes across borders, and a joint European cooperation is crucial to ensure future-proof standards and solutions. So I’m very pleased that we have now signed this declaration. This will give Denmark a distinct comparative advantage over the late-comers of other global maritime hubs, as it will put it in a leading position to set standards for ship registration on the blockchain. Most in the shipping industry would have assumed that other leading maritime nations such as Greece, Norway or Japan would take the lead and have London as the centre of shipping maritime digitalisation and tech advancement, however, all the aforementioned have not used their maritime status and market dominance to their advantage. The cost and size of the world’s trading ecosystems continues to grow in complexity. More than $4trn in goods are shipped each year, and more than 80% of the goods consumers use daily are carried by the ocean shipping industry. According to The World Economic Forum, by reducing barriers within the international supply chain, global trade could increase by nearly 15%, boosting economies and creating jobs. Trust, Transparency and Drowning in a Sea of Paper Shipments of goods involve many parties that are spread across borders and in many cases, on the other side of the world. Apart from the buyer and seller of the goods, there are intermediaries all along the supply chain, from cargo brokers to shipbrokers, banks, clearing houses, all of them submitting, approving and forwarding the required documents to ensure that the transactions and trades are completed to the satisfaction of all parties involved. Keeping track of cargo and ensuring its timely and correct delivery is a gargantuan task, that since the advent of computer technology has been simplified and made more efficient. What used to take months has been reduced to weeks or even days. Blockchain will further reduce this depending on the size of trade or transaction involved. The prize is a revolution in world trade on a scale not seen since the move to standard containers in the 1960s. But the undertaking is as big as the potential upheaval it will cause. To make it work, dozens of shipping lines and thousands of related businesses around the world will have to work out a protocol that can integrate all the new systems onto one vast platform. According to the World Economic Forum, improving communications and border administration using blockchain could generate an additional $1trn in global trade. Blockchain – The Next Frontier for Global Supply Chains “You can’t revolutionize the shipping industry if everyone’s using a different blockchain system"" -- Matt Levine In early May of 2018, the CEO of FedEx referred to blockchain as the “next frontier” for global supply chains. To ensure its competitive advantage and reputation, as well as live up to its famous slogan “When it Absolutely, Positively has to be there overnight”, FedEx created a sophisticated IT infrastructure and distribution network that ensured timely delivery across the world and minimised lost or damaged packages. These days, other competitors have entered the express courier trade, such as UPS and DHL, which are competing directly with FedEx. To safeguard their competitive advantage, each courier company created their own sophisticated distribution network and IT platform only available to cargo brokers, freight agents and distribution centres strategically located across the world. The same applies to shipping and maritime trade. Each shipping giant, or shipping line alliance, has created their own „silos“ of freight and payments transaction data that is only accessible to anyone with permission to access those silos and private data networks. Regretfully, the same is happening now with the advent of public blockchain and private/permissioned DLT such as the recent collaboration between Maersk and IBM. Both will, in all likelihood, only allow competitors to access their permissioned DLT networks if there is something to be gained. Open public blockchain will be the only way forward for the entire shipping and logistics world just as the GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) made mobile phone calling possible in 212 countries (and territories), serving more than 5bn people, comprising more than 80% of the mobile market across the globe. Reducing or even eliminating the paper trail in global trade would result in massive savings and lowered costs as well as shortened transport times between manufacturer and consumer, by avoiding costly time delays at borders, ports and terminals. Blockchain startups like BitNautic are taking this concept even further into other areas of the shipping and maritime industry such as logistics, e-commerce, ships supply, ship broking and cargo consolidation. Cargo Commoditisation The biggest change came in the 1960s, when the industry adopted the standard-size steel boxes in use today, replacing the wooden crates, chests and sacks that stevedores had hauled on the docks for centuries. The advent of global trade using box containers with standard sizes has been a game-changer in the shipping and logistics industry. It shortened transport times, reduced costs and increased efficiency all across the supply chain, as goods could be packed into containers at the factory or warehouse, and unpacked the same way at the receiving end thus avoid manual handling of loading and unloading goods or bulk cargo on board ships. Blockchain will bring about the same revolution as containerisation, this time at the administrative level. All concerned parties to a trade will be able to exchange information and documents on blockchain networks, at a fraction of the time and cost when compared to current systems. “Blockchain in Transport Alliance” has been established with the aim to set standards for the application of blockchain in the maritime and shipping industry. Many key players and major companies in shipping and logistics have joined, with the goal to explore and implement blockchain in supply-chain and cargo transport. Shipping and cargo standardisation is key for global trade efficiency since goods travel through customs, brokers, intermediaries, buyers and sellers. Shipping containers – some even fitted with tracking devices – are already being accounted for on permissioned DLT protocols, because it is relatively simple to account for a small box in a standard size (mostly TEU 40ft), that can be transported by train, truck or ship, and stored in a factory, warehouse or shipping container terminal. Bulk cargoes are not necessarily difficult to track with the prevailing legacy systems, document exchanges and satellite tracking, however, the quantities transported can be tampered with, and this is one of the biggest scourges in bulk cargo transport and maritime transportation in general. It concerns ships departing loading ports with full cargo and arriving at the destination with missing or damaged cargo. Blockchain will not be able to resolve such issues as piracy, but it can ameliorate cargo traceability. It will even improve the dynamics of global trade supply and demand, as “goods on-the-road” will be accounted for in an up-to-date and transparent way by removing the element of unaccounted cargo. Blockchain and the commoditisation of cargo transportation should be a game-changer in global trade, as well as in shipping, maritime and the entire supply-chain world of logistics."

24 Jun 2018

Founding President of the CMA CGM Group Mr. Jacques R. Saadé, dies at 81

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"It is with infinite sadness that the CMA CGM Group announces the death of Mr. Jacques R. Saade, Founding President of the CMA CGM Group, on the 24th of June 2018 at the age of 81. Jacques R. Saadé dedicated his life to CMA CGM. An extraordinary visionary and entrepreneur, he made the Group into a world leader in the maritime transport of containers, developing the company in more than 160 countries, while maintaining the family dimension with its values. After having left Lebanon to protect his family for Civil War, Jacques R Saadé founded the Compagnie Maritime d’Affretement (CMA) 40 years ago, on 13 September 1978, anticipating major developments in world trade and convinced that the container would have a determining role in world maritime transport. He began with 4 employees, a single ship and only one maritime service between Marseilles and Beirut. Then began the company’s extraordinary development. In 1983, he sent his first ships beyond the Mediterranean and had them cross the Suez Canal. In 1986 he launched a service linking North Europe to Asia. In 1992 he opened CMA’s first office in Shanghai, persuaded that China would become the world’s factory. He combined vigorous internal growth with strategic acquisitions allowing him to strengthen the company’s presence on key markets : CGM in 1986, ANL in 1998 and Delmas in 2005. In 2006, the company became the third largest container shipping company in the world. With strong ties to the city of Marseilles, where the Group was founded, Jacques R. Saadé built the CMA CGM Tower in 2006, the new headquarters of the Group and now a symbol of the city of Marseilles. He was always attentive to strengthening the ties between France and Lebanon. Jacques R. Saadé was a recognized industry leader with a worldwide reputation. In 2013 he received one of the highest decorations of the City of Hamburg, the Admiralitäts-Portugaleser. He also received an Honorary Doctorate from the American University in Lebanon, as well as Lebanon’s National Order of the Cedar. In 2014 Jacques R. Saadé received an award from the Association of the Mediterranean Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ASCAME) for encouraging the economic development and conveying a positive image of the Mediterranean Basin, as well as promoting peace and tolerance worldwide. In 2015, he is conferred the title of Commander of the French Legion of Honor by the President of France. The following year he was named Commander of the Ordre National du Mérite Maritime. On 7 February 2017, on his 80th birthday, Jacques R. Saadé, appointed Rodolphe Saadé to the position of Chief Executive Officer of the CMA CGM Group and then appointed him Chairman of the Board of Directors on the 24th of November, the same year."

24 Jun 2018

Egypt monitoring battle for Hodeidah amid Red Sea concerns

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"Egypt’s interest in developments in Hodeidah lies in its reliance on trade through the Red Sea, via the Suez Canal. Efforts to liberate the western Yemeni port city of Hodeidah from control of the Iran-backed Houthi militia are being closely watched in Egypt, with the expectation that international maritime movement in the area will undergo a huge boom after the city’s liberation. “The Houthis have been posing a threat to the international maritime movement in the southern part of the Red Sea since they took control of the city,” said Akram Badreddine, a political science professor at Cairo University. “This is very dangerous, which is why there is an urgent need for support to ongoing efforts for the liberation of the city and its port from Houthi control.” Troops affiliated with the internationally recognised Yemeni government have been carrying out all-out offensive to regain control of Hodeidah from the Houthis, scoring major successes, including liberating the Hodeidah airport. The Houthis have become a major security threat to Saudi Arabia since they overran most of Yemen in 2014. Most of southern Saudi Arabia is within range of the Houthis ballistic missiles, which Riyadh alleges are being provided to the Houthis by Iran and smuggled in via the port of Hodeidah. The Houthis have used the port to threaten navigation in the Red Sea, including damaging a UAE naval vessel. That was not the first Houthi attack on vessels in the region. The Shia militia reportedly intercepted a UN vessel on June 4 that was being used by the World Food Programme to deliver humanitarian aid to the port. In January, the Saudi-led coalition warned that the Houthis were trying to use so-called “boat bombs” — remote-controlled vessels loaded with explosives — against shipping in the Red Sea. Egypt’s interest in developments in Hodeidah lies in its reliance on trade through the Red Sea, via the Suez Canal. Although Egypt has not officially commented on the dangers posed to Red Sea navigation by the Houthis, Cairo has demonstrated that it is acutely aware of possible perils and has contributed naval units to the Arab coalition. In January 2017, Egypt opened a major naval base near the southern entrance to the Red Sea, apparently to be prepared for threats from the Yemeni coast. “Egypt cannot stay silent while all these dangers are looming and in close proximity to its Red Sea coast,” said political analyst Abdel Monem Halawa. Egypt’s concerns are based on a commitment to secure navigation in the Red Sea and to the Suez Canal. In 2014, Egypt spent billions of dollars revamping the canal with a parallel channel allowing for two-way traffic through the canal. Revenues from the Suez Canal are up — thanks to two-way shipping. There is a belief they would rise even higher once the situation in the southern Red Sea is secured. Egypt is also preparing to explore oil and gas off its Red Sea coast, with seismic studies by an international coalition to investigate whether there are oil and gas reserves in the area. “The protection of the Red Sea, from north to south, is a basic pillar of Egypt’s defence strategy,” Halawa said. “This is why any threats to this area are taken very seriously by Cairo.” Freeing the strategic Hodeidah port from Houthi control would secure Red Sea waters and deal a major blow to the Houthis, who rely on the port to receive supplies. “The port is the main point of contact between Tehran and the Houthis,” Badreddine said. “By controlling it, the Arab coalition will put an end to the delivery of Iranian arms to the Shia militia and consequently make the Arab Gulf and the Red Sea more secure.” "

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