Alternative thinking needed for success

Malcolm Latarche
Malcolm Latarche

04 May 2016


Yesterday, Donald Trump’s win in Indiana almost certainly means he will be the Republican candidate in this November’s US presidential election. Like him or loath him – and he seems to be a man that polarises opinion, Trump has already been given a two point lead over Hillary Clinton in one US poll of voter’s intentions in the presidential vote. If that does indeed translate into a win then there will likely be some very big changes called for in the strategies of shipping companies around the globe. Trump has already promised to repatriate some of the US’ lost manufacturing activity from Asia and from China in particular and from Mexico. In fact almost all remaining candidates likely to be in the running for president are protectionist to some degree. Trump has also promised to reverse the current US move away from coal mining and coal use. Quite likely there will also be a stepping back from the COP21 agreement. Protectionism does not really affect bulk commodities except where they can be used as bargaining chips in other negotiations, but it will have a dampening effect on liner traffic as the main carrier for manufactured goods. Before the US Presidential election there will be the UK’s referendum on future membership of the EU. The outcome of this also looks to be too close to call at present but a vote in favour of an exit will inevitably cause a short term disruption to trade sentiment although hardly likely a major immediate disruption. For ship operators to succeed in riding out the possible storms there will have to be some thinking and planning for all eventualities. There is nothing new in this for shipping, political change has been something that operators have always had to adapt to, but the ability to think fast and make smart decisions appears to have been something that has been missing from the industry for some time now.