Meeting of the Union of Greek Shipowners with the Hong Kong Shipowners Association

Piraeus, 06.06.2019

In the wake of the seminal UN IMO / Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 74) meeting, the Union of Greek Shipowners (UGS) and the Hong Kong Shipowners Association (HKSOA) met in Hong Kong on 23 May 2019 in order to discuss the results of this important meeting and the ongoing issues as well as how the industry can best contribute to successful developments.

Building upon the long standing and excellent cooperation between the two associations and in the context of their membership of the International Chamber of Shipping, the UGS President, Mr. Theodore Veniamis and Mr. John Lyras, UGS and ICS Board member, received a warm welcome by a HKSOA delegation headed by its Chairman, Mr. Jack Hsu and engaged in a constructive and insightful exchange of views.

“The shipping industry faces serious challenges ahead and must remain united in order to be able to meet them successfully. We are especially pleased to have had an open and fruitful dialogue and meeting of the minds with our Asian colleagues on an array of topical environmental and operational issues and in particular the safety, availability and other challenges related to the 2020 0.5% global sulphur cap on marine fuels as well as the further reduction of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from ships”, Mr. Veniamis stated.

“It is important for two major shipowners’ associations from Europe and Asia to cooperate on achieving common goals which constitute major challenges for our industry going forward”, Mr. Hsu added.

The UGS and the HKSOA also welcomed the decision of the MEPC 74 to endorse the proposal by the EU 28 Member States and the European Commission for a new work programme on the evaluation and harmonization of rules and guidance on the discharges of Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (EGCSs) into waters in view of the contradictions and uncertainties surrounding the use of EGCSs as equivalent to the consumption of suitable 0.5% sulphur fuels.

The two associations remain fully committed to the UN IMO decisions and process with a view to achieving a safe, consistent and smooth implementation of the 2020 0.5% global sulphur limit on marine fuels and the decarbonisation of global shipping as early as possible. They are, however, concerned about the cost of compliant fuels and several safety and fuel compatibility issues, which hopefully can be fully addressed by the different stakeholders before 2020. In this context, both associations are expecting that the UN IMO Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 101) at its current meeting (5 – 14 June 2019) will deal decisively with the pertinent safety issues so that the new rules are compatible with the operational needs of the different types of ocean-going fleet.

With regard to the long-term target of 50% overall GHG emissions reduction by 2050 compared to 2008, safe low carbon or fossil-free fuels as well as new breakthrough propulsion technologies properly tested and suitable for vessels spending long periods at sea are required on a global scale for international shipping in order for the new environmental rules to be effective and sustainable without distorting competition. These new fuels and technologies will have to be provided through massive investment in research and development involving all necessary stakeholders. The shipping industry has called for the UN IMO to play a more proactive, leading role in the advancement of this research and development.

Lastly, the two associations reiterated their desire to continue the close cooperation and the bilateral meetings.