IMIF Buffet Luncheon 13th February 2012

IMIF Buffet Luncheon Monday 13 February 2012

Hosted by: David Cockroft, General Secretary, International Transport Workers’ Federation – ITF

Guest Speaker: Mr Koji Sekimizu, Secretary General, International Maritime Organisation – IMO

The very first IMIF buffet luncheon that was ever held – at the suggestion of Otto Norland, took place more than twelve years ago at the London Representative offices of Deutsche Schiffsbank in Princes Street when we attracted the princely total of nine people to attend. Those nine included IMIF Chairman Jim Davis, DSB Host and Speaker Otto Norland (one of the original founder members of IMIF), Ian Bouskill – Secretary of IMIF, Bernard Anne – Chairman of Bureau Veritas – and five other loyal supporters, some now sadly deceased. Since then the luncheons have continued to function, usually six or seven a year and thanks to the incredibly wide-ranging network of contacts Jim Davis and the IMIF members have IMIF has always managed to attract a noticeably high profile and relevantly topical specialist guest speaker for each event. The luncheons are hosted by the individual organisations that make up the membership of IMIF – and only happen thanks to the generosity of those IMIF member organisations which pick up the tab for the luncheons – so thank you again all those members who have supported IMIF in this way. So, from that tiny beginning to today’s event – with a roll-call of 55 people, certainly the largest IMIF luncheon ever held. One reason for this might the the identity of today’s guest speaker, Koji Sekimizu, the newly appointed Secretary of the International Maritime Organisation, the United Nations body that deals with the world’s shipping at a sovereign state level. Another reason might be the host for this luncheon, David Cockroft, General Secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation, ITF – the largest affiliated Trade Union in the world – and a third reason might just possibly be IMIF Chairman Jim Davis, a recent recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Lloyd’s List Global Awards Dinner and an old friend of Koji Sekimizu. The roll-call for this luncheon was impressive and included Kostas Amarantidis, the new Director of the Greek Shipping Co-Operation Committee; Graham Barnes of BankServe, Angus Frew and Mark Brownrigg of the Chamber of Shipping; Nigel Carden of Thomas Miller; Julie Clegg and Peter Handley of Stephenson Harwood; Andrew Craig-Bennett of Cosco UK; Foresight’s Ravi Mehrotra; Richard Greiner of Moore Stephens; Peter Hinchliffe – International Chamber of Shipping; Derek Hodgson of IACS; Jeremy Hodgson of Deutsche Schiffsbank; David Jones of Intercargo; John McDonald – European Chairman of ABS; the veteran IMIF member and former Olympics athlete Tony Nunn OBE of the International Union of Marine Insurance; CMA CGM’s Michael Parker; The Baltic Exchange’s Chief Executive Jeremy Penn; Class NK’s Dr Abdul Rahim; Struan Robertson of Clarksons Legal Services (a Deputy Chairman of IMIF); Richard Schiferli, Secretary General of the Paris MoU on Port State Control from the Hague; Cecil Smylie of Fairdeal International, a Past Master of the Honorable Company of Master Mariners; Clarkson’s Martin Stopford and a host of other delegates from the maritime industries and hosts ITF. Jim Davis, tongue in cheek, thanked David Cockroft for all his culinary efforts in the kitchen preparing such a splendid meal before introducing Koji Sekimizu. He expressed gratitude to Mr Sekimizu for agreeing to speak at an IMIF luncheon for his first venture outside IMO. Jim Davis had been in regular contact with Koji’s predecessor, Mr Mitropoulos, but Jim Davis felt that as much of the energy and force of international shipping was moving to the east it was appropriate to have a new Secretary General from the east. Koji confirmed that it was his first venture into the more general shipping world  – and he thought it good to have a meeting with so many representatives of the industry within his first month in office. He had a lot of goals he wanted to achieve, issues to be tackled at a global level. He wanted a very business-like application of the IMO mandatory audit scheme. He did not claim to be a politician or a diplomat like his predecessor but felt that he could serve the industry well as a worthy technician. At the 3rd Technical IMO sub-committee he wished to promote three rules. First – Management – involving numerous senior staff changes and the appointment of new ‘management’ officers. Second – Representation – of staff, the industry – and himself. He had accepted an invitation to attend at Davos – it was useful for him to be able to emphasise the importance of shipping in the world economy and he wanted to go ‘outside’ the shipping industry to promote it. He felt that 20 years after the Rio Conference he wanted to engage with the developing world and to highlight shipping and its importance in developing the sustenance of the world. He had invited all IMO members and Ambassadors to attend an ‘informal’ meeting to jointly work together. Third – Leadership – He had met with the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr Ban Ki-moon and he hade been invited by Mr Moon to carry on promoting IMO’s role against piracy – including a meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron on anti-piracy on 23rd February and on 16th May IMO was to handle the issue of arms on board ships – he most strongly felt that this was an issue for the IMO to handle – not the UN. He wanted to introduce new mechanisms – he was acutely aware of the global financial problems but such things as piracy had to be dealt with and he had set up a sub-group structure to look into handling the financial aspects of it. While this was happening Costa Concordia had occurred – so very shortly before the Titanic Conference. Mr Sekimizu was adamant that we should not pre-judge or speculate as to the reasons for the accident until a proper investigation had been carried out – ‘under ITALIAN law’ he emphasised. He acknowledged that more than 70 nationalities were involved so IMO staff will punctiliously monitor the investigations. As a final initiative there will be a specific agenda on maritime safety but he emphasised again that he did not want to pre-empt any findings. Time is tight, he acknowledged and there are so many other issues as well – greenhouse gas issues, maritime traffic management,   sustainable development and the future of IMO. He needed a ‘country’ profile for each of the member states – based on their own national profile. And finally he emphasised that he was ‘feeling great!’ I live in Dream and Reality, he said. In bed I dream of IMO and when my alarm goes at 5.15 a.m. I get up determined to convert those dreams into reality! He alluded to one final thought – in 1985 when negotiating with the OECD Koji had suggested promoting the scrapping of ships. Turning to IMIF chairman Jim Davis he said “I understand that Jim Davis was also involved in these promotions!”  Jim Davis thanked Koji Sekimizu for a tremendous “tour de raison”  but added that the problem of the Court of Human Rights’ insistence on the release of captured pirates was another issue that needed to be followed up. Ravi Mehrotra felt that the commercial implications of regulations needed closer study. “You need to think how to develop your own safety culture, Koji said. From the beginning the IMO has not been involved in commercial aspects. John Whitlow of ITF said ‘You have talked of your commitment to sustainable development – I hope this will address social aspects for seafarers as well.’ Andrew Craig-Bennet of Cosco referred to regulations put in place after a collision 40 years ago. The regulations are still there but shipping has changed beyond recognition – are there any plans for a review? he asked. Jim Davis emphasised that IMIF totally supported the IMO’s ‘global’ approach to shipping. “There are too many local ‘regional’ areas trying to set themselves up to compete with the IMO in their own restricted local areas.  There have to be agreed ‘global’ solutions. He thanked the speaker, the host and all the IMIF delegates present. Koji Sekimizu then had the last word. “The world is happy to purchase and consume a vast multitude of goods from all over the world but noticeably manages to totally ignore all the ships that carry those goods to their many destinations” he said.