ASA united in diversity…up to a point

The successful holding of annual general meetings by the International Chamber of Shipping and the Asian Shipowners Association in Hong Kong this week will be recalled as 2018 highlights for the premier northeast Asia maritime centre.

Speaking at the ICS cocktail party on May 16 and ahead of the organization’s AGM, chief corporate officer Gary Cheung, of Hong Kong-based TCC Group summed up the spirit of cooperation and interdependency that exists between ASA and ICS.

“The collaboration and partnership of Asian shipowners’ associations and the ICS plays a critical role in interpreting, strategizing and formulating action plans in meeting the flood of challenges from maritime regulatory entities,” he said.

This year’s ASA AGM opened with the slogan “ASA United in Diversity”. But the prospect of a closer mutual embrace of the two industry bodies has become a bone of contention among some members of ASA.

As part of a year-long strategy review held in 2017 by ICS, one issue raised was that of ICS representation in Asia. There appear to be strong reasons for such a move. Asia now accounts for over 50% of the global fleet and there has long been a school of thought in some quarters that institutions and organizations that govern or influence the industry are overly Eurocentric. Despite ICS secretary general, Peter Hincliffe dismissing the notion, moves toward placing representation look to be going ahead with a decision on personnel and geographic location being made as soon as September 2018.

It came as a surprise then when at the ASA AGM last week a number of Asian associations appeared to be having second thoughts about an ICS presence in the region. Observers noted that one argument raised was that with ASA representation at ICS there was no need for ICS to be represented in Asia.

Having arrived at a shortlist of three potential locations in the region where the mooted representation will sit, the potential for two of them to be deeply upset at their exclusion is high.

It is difficult to know just how ICS will navigate this looming iceberg. But it could not go far wrong by heeding the advice of one obsever who insisted ICS concentrate on the calibre of the representative and start headhunting now.

“The location is not important. Bali could be nice,” added the observer.


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