Is Tasmania’s shipping success sustainable?

CharltonBy Agility Logistics Tasmanian General Manager Brett Charlton

It was only two years ago when we were sobbing into our whiskey glasses that the development of trade was stifled due to our lack of international shipping and our State Government was looking to offer an incentive for a shipping line to come to our island and help us develop this neglected space.

The extension of the TFES came through as a better option and as such has allowed exporters to be more competitive in international trade but also to have confidence in their focus and invest inwards with plant and equipment and research.

A well respected Tasmanian-bred shipping executive stated at a forum held by the Tasmanian Logistics Committee at the beginning of the year that Tasmanians have never had it as good for freighting to and from Tasmania.

The Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme (TFES) extended for export, the increase of capacity of Searoad and the two new vessels coming from Toll in 2018, MSC calling direct into Bell Bay, Maersk calling direct into Bell Bay, Swire calling into Hobart and the likes of CMA CGM, ANL, PIL, Hamburg Sud and OOCL all servicing Tasmania via our feeder services.

Tasmania has not seen as much competition in its market for I don’t know when.

Another major shipping line is dipping its toe into Tasmania in September (via the coastal shipping services) and DP World is well down the track in the investment into Burnie port with the view to attract international services.

The same shipping company executive also said “enjoy it now, because it is not sustainable”.

This is where we need to be thinking at the moment. I do not want to be sowing seeds of doubt and nor do I wish to be alarmist, but it is important to consider the future in the shipping space as failure to comprehend the actions of today could very well impact us into the future. If we have emerging significant volumes then the new capacity and competition is welcome, but if the pie is the same size and global players have the ability to capture volumes, then there is some risk to the coastal trade currently in place. Competition is good for traders in Tasmania, but sustainability must be part of the plan.

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