Posidonia 2016, the world’s most prestigious shipping event, was inaugurated on Monday evening by the Prime Minister of Greece Mr Alexis Tsipras and attended by heads of states, European Union officials, Greek cabinet members, foreign maritime ministers, board members of the Union of Greek Shipowners, chairmen of international organisations as well as some 1.500 exhibitors and delegates from around the world.
The prestigious Opening Ceremony kicked-off the most anticipated biennial maritime event which has set a new record in size, as this year’s exhibition exceeds 40.000 sqm, and includes over 40 conferences, seminars and workshops, scheduled to take place at the Athens Metropolitan Expo over the next four days, till the curtains come down on Friday 10th of June.
Addressing the global audience, the Greek Prime Minister Mr. Alexis Tsipras said that the Greek ocean going shipping contributes seven percent to Greece’s gross national product whilst providing significant direct and indirect employment opportunities. He also said that the strength of Greek shipping has helped position the country at the epicenter of the changes and developments the global economy is undergoing. He also stressed that Greece’s strategic geopolitical position coupled with the location of Greece’s big ports is a combination which guarantees the prospects of establishing the country as the commercial gateway to Europe for many products and services. He added that investments for the improvement of the existing infrastructure are essential and would provide Greece with yet another competitive advantage in the country’s road to recovery.
The Greek Minister of Shipping and Island Policy, Mr Theodore Dritsas, said: “During the past years, the shipping sector, one of the most globalised industries in the field of international trade, has faced great challenges. These are related to the excess tonnage, combined with short term reduction in the demand side for transported cargo volumes, lack of funding from bank institutions, sharp decline in vessel values, uncertainty in oil prices and acute competition. Inevitably, these factors led to a substantial downward pressure on freight rates, in particular in dry market segment. The gradual recovery of the world economy will certainly lead to the reduction and hopefully the elimination of those phenomena.
Despite the difficulties in both the national and global economic environment, Greek shipping managed to maintain its leading position at international level. More than 1.350 shipping companies are established in Greece, mainly in Piraeus, constituting the driving force for a number of related economic activities. Greek shipping remains a vital and successful economic generator of the national economy, contributing over 7% to the national GDP, providing almost 200.000 jobs both at sea and ashore, covering also over 30% of the country’s trade deficit” Dritsas continued.
The Secretary General of the International Maritime Organisation, Mr Kitack Lim, said: “Shipping has a wonderful ability to tap into rich currents of innovation and excellence in key areas, from safety at sea, to clean shipping – and beyond. Events like Posidonia provide a valuable opportunity to showcase all that creativity and energy; an opportunity to mix, to mingle, to make friends and do business.”
Speaking at the inauguration event, Mr Matej Zakonjšek, Head of Cabinet to Commissioner for Transport, European Commission said: “I am delighted to see the vitality of the sector in spite of the hardships – an impressive example of this is the Greek shipping community hosting this event. The potential of shipping to bring prosperity to Europe is strong, and so is our resolve to work together with all of you to overcome any stormy seas ahead.”
Echoing the voice of the Greek shipowners, Mr Theodore Veniamis, President of the Union of Greek Shipowners, added: ““The Greek shipowners, and the Greek state, as representatives of a traditional maritime country, currently amounting approximately to 50% of European shipping and 20% of the world fleet in terms of tonnage, have been strong supporters of the institutional role of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as the only appropriate legislative body for shipping. The reason is one but very important: shipping as an international activity, fully exposed to international competition, requires a uniform enforceable legislative framework. The IMO has addressed successfully challenges over the years and has adopted international conventions which achieve the required balance between its Member States.
“Even its critics acknowledge that the shipping industry is subject to a comprehensive legal framework ensuring safety of maritime transport and environmental protection. Especially nowadays, with the ongoing intense discussions on climate change and greenhouse gas emissions from shipping, the IMO is invited to take the leading role on the issue and defend the sector with efficient and long-lasting solutions. I would like to stress that the priority for European legislators should be to form a shipping policy focused on maintaining the competitiveness of Community shipping. A policy that takes into account the international character of shipping and the necessary prerequisite to be competitive, hence, sustainable in order to continue operating smoothly to the benefit of the European economy, public welfare and world trade” Veniamis continued.
On behalf of the organisers, Theodore Vokos, Executive Director, Posidonia Exhibitions S.A., said: “This is the biggest Posidonia in the event’s 46 year-long history as over 1.800 exhibitors from 89 countries will participate. They represent all sectors of the industry, including over 200 shipyards, 19 national pavilions, over 80 ICT companies and dozens of ballast water treatment specialists, amongst others. We also expect to welcome some 20.000 visitors from all over the world confirming the reputation of Posidonia as the most important shipping event.”
Posidonia 2016 will be held from June 6 – 10 at the Athens Metropolitan Expo. The event is organised under the auspices of the Greek shipping community and the five major associations representing Greek shipping interests: Ministry of Maritime Affairs & Insular Policy, Municipality of Piraeus, Hellenic Chamber of Shipping, Union of Greek Shipowners, Greek Shipping Cooperation Committee, Hellenic Shortsea Shipowners Association and Association of Passenger Shipping Companies