WISTA HELLAS brought key players of the Greek shipping market together in a first ever pure panel discussion placing obstacles and challenges on the table for a candid debate in light of the current economic and political global climate, at its traditional Annual Forum, this year titled “The future of shipping in the face of current economic and geopolitical challenges”, which took place on Tuesday, 15 December 2015 at the Metropolitan Hotel in Athens.
With almost 300 shipping professionals in attendance from the Greek Maritime Community as well as abroad, WISTA Hellas filled the evening with engaging dialogue from representatives of the major sectors of the market. Even the Minister of Shipping, Maritime Affairs and the Aegean, Mr. Thodoris Dritsas could not be kept away despite his other obligations, and sent a personal video address to ensure his presence was felt.
With Mrs. Dorothea Ioannou, Vice President of WISTA Hellas, moderating, this year’s lineup included an exceptionally stellar panel with (in alphabetical order) Mrs. Liona Bachas, Managing Director of Hellaschart Ltd., Vice President of Hellenic Shipbrokers Association and founding member of WISTA Hellas, Mr. George Gourdomichalis, Chief Executive Officer of Blue Wall Shipping Ltd., Managing Director of Phoenix Shipping & Trading S.A. and President of the Board of Directors of Piraeus Marine Club, Mr. Manos Lorentzos, Managing Director of Seascope Hellas and Chairman of Hellenic Committee of Lloyd’s Brokers Associates, Mrs. Rea Metropoulou, partner at Bartsiokas Metropoulou and Associates Lawyers, Legal and Claims Manager of Hellenic Carriers Corporation S.A., member of
the Boardof Directors of Hellenic Maritime Law Association and former President of WISTA Hellas, Mrs. Katerina Mylona, Director of Transmed Shipping Ltd., Dr. Konstantinos Rokkos, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of TST International S.A. and partner of TST International Group and Mr. Stylianos I. Siafakas, Chief Operating Officer of Product Shipping and Trading S.A.
True to the title of the event, each panelist gave their perspective and insight in response to questions presented derived from some of the most vexing issues in shipping today and kept the audience glued to their seats to the very end. The panelists began each in turn laying out their views on the biggestchallenges to doing business today with illustrations through video and narratives ranging from difficulties in geopolitics such as sanctions and terrorism to counter party credit issues and ever dropping fright rates in the dry bulk sector. The burdens of due diligence, sanctions checks, charterparty clause negotiation as well as bank loan sanctions clauses were all raised as well as insurance obstacles all creating uncertain business environments and insecurity in concluding contracts raising risks across the board. Traditional issues of private/public equity vs. bank finance were debated with panelists daring to differ on perspectives taking the dialogue to a heightened level of engagement.
Notably, Mrs. Angie Hartmann, President of WISTA Hellas, during her opening address, opined on the theme of the forum and the resilience of Greek shipping, explaining that “Greek shipping stands tall, against every obstacle, showing great strength and honoring its history and tradition. It continues to maintain the leading role in the international maritime market”.
Concluding the works of the forum, Mrs Hartmann, thanked, on behalf of the Board, all the panelists, the sponsors and the audience for the very constructive and successful event and invited everyone to a cocktail reception which lasted long into the evening.