German shipping companies keep afloat despite six years of crisis | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 13.12.2013
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German shipping companies keep afloat despite six years of crisis

The German Shipowners' Association has taken stock of six years of crisis for the domestic merchant fleet. It said difficulties were still ongoing, but large-scale insolvencies had been successfully headed off.

Slowly emerging from a protracted slump in global demand, Germany's merchant shipping companies were eagerly awaiting a pick-up in markets and with it brisker trade again, the German Ship Owners' Association (VDR) said Friday.

It said German ship owners were still in charge of over 3523 merchant vessels, about 150 fewer than at the beginning of the year.

The ongoing crisis also had an impact on the size of the seafaring personnel. Its number dropped by 1,600 to total 71,000 at present, the association reported.

Piracy a concern

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Stranded German ships

"The global oversupply of shipping capacity and the continued reduction in the banks' shipping portfolios are still having a serious impact on German companies in the sector, with charter rates continuing to be less than adequate," the VDR said in a statement on its website.

"Tighter regulations for improved environmental and climate protection are causing additional expenditures for charter and liner shipping companies," it added.

Despite the difficulties at hand, Germany continued to be the world's major player in the container shipping segment. With 1570 container vessels at its disposal, it is capable of transporting 4.7 million standard containers and defending its 30-percent global market share.

The association said it was alarmed by the rising level of piracy attacks off the coast of West Africa, but added the number of assaults had decreased off the Horn of Africa thanks to the deployment of international naval forces and measures adopted by ship owners and operators to protect themselves.

hg/ph (dpa, Reuters)

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