Greek Shipping: get your act together! All sectors and stakeholders must come to their senses; politicians and unions first!

Associations, Bribery and Corruption, Coastal Shipping, Disputes, Energy, Labour Disputes, Logistics, Maritime Tourism, Markets, News, Ocean Shipping, Organisations, Politics and Government, Ports & Terminals, Safety and Security, Sales and Purchases, Shipbuilding and Shipyards, Shipfinance, Shipping Indices, Short Sea Shipping, Stock Markets, Strikes — By on February 11, 2013 at 5:12 PM
John N. Faraclas

John N. Faraclas

The following are the main points from the latest John Faraclas live interview to Panos Thomakos on SBC TV last Friday the 8th  of February 2013:

1. On the Markets, Faraclas and following Moundreas’ weekly video on the state of the market- chartering, S & P, as well as the shipbuilding industry, reiterated his view that  we are in a downward market, with the BDI down to 748 points, save a fluctuation with the Panamaxes for two days, 6 and 7 February – a small rise.  This state of the market, once again confirmed his predictions as same were televised on the 1st of February’s interview.

Thomakos mentioned that the Chinese economy and trade does well, but Faraclas stressed that in his view the figures are incorrect challenging Thomakos that one should see what happened in Greece in the 2000-2009 period where the figures “were” intact and the economy flourishing, that post Olympics Greece was a miracle, yet the country in reality become bankrupt, adding the two previous bankruptcies after the restoration of democracy in 1974, the cases of 1985 and 2004. Thomakos nodded in agreement. Faraclas explained what really happens; America, the US had begun a trade pattern with China, which in reality began with the late American President Richard Nixon, with his Ping-Pong policy following his visit there in 1968. Nixon also “selected” Romania, another country with a peculiar geopolitical interest for him, and conversely for the USA. Faraclas reiterated than only when China is fully democratized, and then we can talk figures.

Another issue is that of the Chinese challenge/counter, as Thomakos mentioned, the one of Chinese hegemony, becoming the superpower. Faraclas agreed that this is the case mentioning the recent alert in the Far East between China and Japan over disputed islet and areas (sea areas) and how he believes Barack Obama and the USA intervene to reduce the tension.

Moreover Faraclas mentioned the dismay of many nations, the western maritime industrial ones, add Japan too,  vis-à-vis say the marine equipment built under licence in China or being transported over there for mounting on ships, newbuildings and equipment for under repair tonnage. These nations are now considering their local economies, industry and labour force!

2. Announcing some good news, Faraclas mentioned: a)The Annual Dinner and Ball of the Hellenic Engineer Society of Great Britain at the Dorchester Hotel on the 2nd of February, where over 400 people attended, showing how important role this society plays worldwide. Members now are also British Marine Engineers and Naval Architects as well as  a great range of companies, consultants, you name it!  As London is the Administrative Capital of Shipping except shipping offices and agencies, many shipbroking and services entities exist for over 200 years. The support of the British maritime industry is unique. Also one has to count to the international support from all over the world, given that 15 percent of the guests come from all over the world. Scholarships and much more other charitable assistance come from the HESGB!

b)The other major good news event, was the speech of the president of the Union of Greek Shipowners Theodore Veniamis on the 6th of February at UGS’ annual general meeting. Faraclas was pleased that Veniamis in his very powerful speech mentioned, what he himself has first  referred to in one of his live interviews with SBC TV on the banks’  inability to lend money in a low, but good for finance markets, as well as the biased against Greek Shipping Foreign Media attitude. Veniamis repeated that as always, the Union of Greek Shipping is standing-by the Greek state and the Greek people to assist, create and support them. Faraclas said that all this is fine but the Greek Government must realize what is shipping. He was categorical on this as every Greek Administration must understand what Greek Shipping is for Greece and its people… Greek Shipping was, is and will continue to retain the first place, something which creates the envy of all! Faraclas said that the Greek Shipping Co-operation Committee and the Union of Greek Shipowners are like a coin: two sides united. Of course there are also other associations and organisations supporting them, but the basis is the GSCC and the UGS.- Thomakos asked from where the Greek shipowners obtain finance and Faraclas said they get finance from all over the world. He explained that Greek banks have many anchyloses, a short of “stiffness” in lending money. He provoked the major Greek Banking Groups for a live (televised) session! Thomakos also mentioned how bad it was when there were attacks from within Greek Shipping, an issue with which Faraclas fully agreed.

3. Thomakos asked how Faraclas views the New Law on reinstating the Ministry of Shipping, Maritime Affairs and the Aegean. Faraclas said that the advisors to the minister, meaning those you got involved in structuring the New Law, must come to their senses. The Ministry could work if lower officials, Coast Guard Officers and Civil personnel take over and conclude matters, as bureaucracy gets more and more when all matters have to be signed my high ranking officials. Moreover he said that despite the chance of the Olympic Games, the Greek Coast Guard’s number of personnel remained far lower than the appropriate one. Who is to blame for this? The political masters of the Ministry. Faraclas stressed that he hopes that Kostis Moussouroulis will, and must lead, appropriately the Ministry to the country’s benefit. Faraclas’ personal view is that the Ministry is the best in Greece, imagine if it works properly and the new law covers all aspects.

4. On the Greek Coastal Service and the strikes he said that the cost of fuel is one of the stumbling blocks, the other is the collective agreements, and as he said “….I stand in the middle between the owners and the seafarers, I stand by the right middle, but what is that the Pan-Hellenic Greek Seafarers Union (PNO) wants? He blamed consecutive Greek administrations who never exercised the right of a proper risk assessment, hence all this mess. They should have made a prognosis on the price of oil. They political masters of the ministries are to be blame for this situation who granted the licences. He reminded the audience that in the past, ETVA Banks and governmental socialist policy which totally sank the Greek coastal shipping and the “popular based” coastal shipping companies – 1982 onwards… Seafarers should understand that Coastal Shipping Companies are not a charity!

Ending the interview Thomakos asked what is the most important issue on this new Law regarding the Ministry. Faraclas said that in a nutshell, the most important issue is the Political dimension. The reason is that when you do not have a government with an overwhelming majority, there is no way to create proper law, as the parties in the coalition today pulled different the strings, and Thomakos agreed on the issue of compromising with the governmental partners. Thomakos managed to ask just before the conclusion of the interview, what’s up with the Ports issue, as Piraeus is doing well and the cranes are busy, a good sign after all. Faraclas said that Greece is not Piraeus and that all ports should operate in full, stressing for a proper ports policy and activating the northern axis ports of Greece: Thessaloniki, Kavalla and Alexandroupolis.

We look forward to our viewer comments. As usual there will be a translation into English and viewers can log on here to listen:

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