Six months into my Presidency of ISSA, I have already had the pleasure of visiting many Member States of the European Union and, consequently, members of OCEAN, the European Ship Suppliers Organisation, a committee of ISSA.
In particular, I would like to thank the Chairman of OCEAN, my good friend and colleague Dirk Cupido, for the friendly invitation to join the OCEAN Board at their meeting in Sofia, Bulgaria. This allowed me to experience first-hand all the complex European customs, trade, tax, veterinary and maritime (+data protection!) laws that govern modern 21st century European ship supply.
Many ship supply companies are overwhelmed with complexity and the mountain of legalese and red tape required to establish and maintain compliance with government regulations which never seems to end. This is especially the case where there are European laws in addition to national ones!
It is, therefore, a clever strategy by the European ship supply industry to come together and protect the industry’s interest by forming a European alliance! In fact, they have done this successfully for more than 40 years engaging regularly with the EU decision makers, proactively promoting the industry and its particularities.
In Sofia, I could see for myself how this very practical interaction between the representative of the Bulgarian Customs Authority and us was appreciated on both sides as it fostered mutual understanding, trust and cooperation. Just the kind of relationship that we should have with our authorities in all countries!
This close customs-business partnership is also in line with the work of the World Customs Organisation (WCO) and the Trade Facilitation Agreement of the Word Trade Organisation (WTO), so from a global point of view, I can only applaud OCEAN for having such strong relations with “Brussels”, the EU and national authorities.
It is for that reason and for the close friendships, networks and partnerships that have developed in Europe over the years, that I am proud to call OCEAN a strong and vibrant committee of ISSA, contributing to our plans to advance and modernise ISSA and the global ship supply industry. But, we need to look into the future, together!
New opportunities and challenges are on the horizon, from autonomous transport modes, to 3D printing of spares, to drones delivering cargo to vessels under way on the high seas to the next disruptive block chain / smart ledger technology. These are developments we cannot confront ourselves – we need OCEAN, Europe, in fact the whole world of ISSA to discuss and debate our response to it.
As we prepare to meet in Istanbul for ISSA’s 63rd Convention & Trade Exhibition on 23rd & 24th November 2018, I hope that all of OCEAN’s members and companies will join us on this fascinating journey.