The Greek is sold, the Turk is assembled! Turn Crisis into Opportunity

SHAFAQNA Türkiye – According to news in Economy, which has one of the largest merchant marine fleets in the world, Greek shipowners put the ships up for sale when they were unable to capture a share of the growing tanker market due to Western sanctions. While the Greek shipowner was the top seller of tankers in 2023, the Turkish shipowner took first place in purchasing.

John N. Kotzias, President of the Hellenic Ship Brokers Association (HSA), answered questions from The Economics newspaper at the 8th Global Shipping Managers Symposium, held last Friday in Piraeus, a port city in Greece. Explaining his expectations regarding the development of the global shipping industry, Kotzias shared current data on the market for the sale of ships.


In the tanker market, where the Russian-Ukrainian war was the most profitable period in the last 20 years, the cards are again mixed up. When transporting oil from pipelines to the sea, due to Western sanctions, the demand for tankers increased, prices rose to a record high. A Greek shipowner who could not transport Russian oil due to an embargo has put up fleet tankers for sale, while a Turkish shipowner, who has turned a crisis into an opportunity, is collecting vessels. According to information provided by Chairman John N. Kotzias, Greek shipowners sold the most tankers in the first half of the year and Turkish shipowners were among the largest buyers.

Recalling that before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the EU and Asia accounted for almost 99 percent of Russia’s maritime crude oil exports, Kotzias said: “Now Asian countries account for about 93 percent of Russian maritime crude oil exports. They are the largest importer of crude oil from Russia. European imports of Russian crude oil fell to 3 percent. Similarly, while in January 2022 Asian countries accounted for only 10.3% of Russian maritime petroleum exports, Asian countries account for almost 50% of Russian maritime petroleum exports. Western sanctions against Russia coincided with a period of global growth in demand for oil. The resumption of air traffic after the end of the pandemic increased the demand for oil,” he said.

HSA President John N. Kotzias announced that about 390 tankers changed hands in the global shipping fleet in the first half of 2023, up 27 percent from last year. In the first half of 2023, per quarter, Greeks sold 97 tankers with an average age of 17 years. China followed with 37 ships sold. The average age of ships sold by Chinese shipowners was 11 years. In terms of purchases, Kotzias announced the data for the first quarter, “UAE buyers lead in the first quarter of 2023, while China, Turkey and India also top the buyer lists. Chinese investors bought 30 tankers, Turks – 27, Indians – 26. He said.


On the other hand, J. Kotzias said that the appetite for buying vessels has decreased from both tankers and bulk carriers compared to the first quarter of 2023. In the first half of the year, the owners of 311 dry cargo ships were changed. Greek shipowners sold 55 such vessels. During this period, Japanese and Chinese shipowners sold 38 and 35 dry cargo ships, respectively. As for the bulk carrier, in contrast to the tanker, the first place on the part of the buyer was taken by the Greeks. Greek shipowners bought 71 bulk carriers, while Chinese and Turkish shipowners bought 28 and 20 ships respectively.


In the maritime market, where record profits have been recorded due to the pandemic, freight has declined rapidly. Container and dry cargo transportation has decreased by more than 70 percent over the past year. So, will this fall continue? Kotzias said: “The poor performance of China’s economic recovery and the failure of the Chinese government’s stimulus package to have a major impact on China’s GDP growth rate market. On the other hand, the increase in road and air traffic, the revival of domestic and international tourism, and the reopening of many refineries in China have significantly increased the demand for crude oil and finished oil, supporting the demand for ships. So the real question is how and when China will return to significant economic growth, how it will sustain trade momentum, and how other geopolitical factors will continue to influence global markets. On the other hand, the significant changes in trade caused by the war in Ukraine are affecting dry cargo trade by sea, as this is the main export route for iron and steel. “Even if the war ends tomorrow, it will take years for global trade, especially maritime trade, to return to pre-war levels of pandemic and activity in the region.”


Noting that the container market has made incredible profits in two years, allowing shipowners to create huge cash reserves, Kotzias said that this income is mainly invested in new construction. Saying that 15 percent of the world’s container ship fleet has been booked for new ships, Kotzias said new ships entering the market will lower freight rates, while new environmentally friendly ships will benefit early-stage ship owners. in this respect. On the other hand, Kotsias pointed out that recycling will accelerate with the arrival of new ships in the fleet. “It is expected to accelerate recycling. This is a great opportunity for Turkey to develop its shipbreaking business and bring decommissioned container ships into the country.” said.


HSA President John N. Kotzias is very popular in the Turkish maritime community. Emphasizing that he has many friends in Turkey and that he feels at home, Kotsias spoke about new opportunities for cooperation between the two countries, “Turkey and Greece can cooperate to develop maritime trade and logistics operations in the region. This may include joint ventures or partnerships in port development, cargo handling, shipbuilding and supply chain management. The maritime sector of Turkey and Greece can cooperate to promote common interests, share best practices and contribute to the development of international maritime regulations and policies. Shipbrokers from both neighboring countries can cooperate in chartering, selling and buying ships.” said.


Commenting on the Turkish maritime industry, Kotzias said:

“Türkiye has a unique geographical position connecting Europe, Asia and the Middle East. This location offers significant opportunities for the shipping industry to serve as an important transit hub for international trade. With the right investments in port infrastructure such as container terminals, shipyards and logistics centers, efficiency and capacity have been improved in recent years, bringing more logistics operations to the country. In addition, as global trade grows, Turkey could benefit from increased demand for delivery services. Turkey needs to improve its competitiveness in terms of cost, efficiency and service quality in order to maintain and increase its market share.”


As part of the 8th Global Symposium of Shipping Managers held in Piraeus, Greece, the Hellenic Ship Brokers Association (HSA) organized a gala dinner. In addition to Ismail Sahin, Chairman of the Turkish Ship Brokers Association (GBD), about 20 people from the Turkish maritime community attended the event. During the night, GBB President Ismail Shaheen presented a plaque to John N. Kotzias, president of a similar Greek association, the HSA, with which they have a long association. Highlighting his satisfaction with the plaque, John N. Kotzias said: “We were delighted to receive the beautiful plaque as a token of our gratitude for the longstanding partnership between Greek and Turkish ship brokers and for having our neighbors with us on such a special occasion. The two associations have always shared a sincere respect for each other. We are very pleased that the brokers of the two countries always work in perfect cooperation according to the agreements. We are also happy and proud that our Board of Directors was invited to the Turkish Ship Brokers Dinner to be held in Istanbul on June 28, 2024.”

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