The clash between shippers and carriers on container shipping saw a new move this week, as Jean Louis Cambon, Head of Michelin Ocean Management Committee was elected the new Chairman of ESC’s Maritime Transport Council.
In his acceptance speech, Mr Cambon said that shippers should not leave some of the current carriers’ practices unchallenged, and took slow-steaming as an example:
Those carriers introducing slow-steaming to reduce their own costs must understand the possible impacts this has on their customers’ supply chains: lengthening lead-times, increasing inventory cost, disorganizing transhipment patterns, and making changes to schedules and port rotations with little or no warning.
He did not miss the opportunity to respond, in at least two different occasions, to the criticisms levelled at the shippers by Gianluigi Aponte , chief executive of Mediterranean Shipping Company.
[T]his has to be one of the few sectors of industry that believes it can reduce service quality while simultaneously increasing prices, and expect its customers to accept this and additionally take the blame for the carriers’ misfortunes.
Carriers should pay more attention to their customers needs and take the time to learn about their customers’ businesses. That way they might focus less on chasing market share, over-ordering new ships and selling rates, and focus more on identifying and delivering the right services and improved service quality.
In what could be seen as a concilliatory gesture, Mr Cambon finished his speech by affirming that carriers and shippers should work together to find a way ‘beyond the old cycle of boom and bust, rate volatility and instability in the liner shipping market’ and added, “we all have a vested interest in the long term stability of the liner shipping sector; equally the liner shipping sector has a vested interest in the sustainable economic growth of their customers.”