As the world battles to control the coronavirus, the global maritime industry is playing a vital role with respect to the continuation of transportation and keeping the logistics value chain functioning.
Our sector is key in the provision of essential goods such as food, medical equipment and crucial supplies. With Belgium and other countries having closed borders and a large part of Europe in lock-down, Rotterdam even more so plays a critical role in the logistics infrastructure.
The maritime gateway to Europe proves particularly valuable with air transportation being constrained to ensure goods and commodities keep moving to their destination. According to Allard Castelein CEO of the Port of Rotterdam Authority there are currently no weaknesses in the logistics chains, however we should all be ready for adversities to come.
We hear alarming signs from Dutch shipyards requesting government support to address liquidity issues. Maritime suppliers are faced with demand fall-out but also restriction in foreign supplies. The cruise market is dead and an oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia has initiated a collapse in the conventional energy markets. Whilst shipping companies worry about the health of their crew and face operational challenges in ports, the advantages having your vessels flagged under a reliable and supportive ship register such as the Dutch register are showing.
On a geopolitical level we wonder who will take the lead to come up with a global coordinated effort to support global health and economy. During the previous global crisis (2008-2009) it was the US taking unprecedented first steps to help the financial sector. It still has to been seen how the EU and US will tackle this new crisis, both with protective measures and international cooperation at the same time
As a professional working in the maritime business services industry, your daily routine has most probably shifted for a large part to working from home, videocalls and short trips to the supermarket.
As business services providers to the maritime industry, it is important that we support the entire cluster during these critical times. Obviously this applies to other crucial sectors, such as medical care, but we should ensure that the unique Rotterdam maritime cluster we have built together should come out of this crisis stronger than ever.