Shipping Leaders Navigate Stormy Seas: Protectionism A Top Threat


  • Shipping industry leaders at the “Shaping the Future of Shipping Summit” in Montreal identified protectionism as a major threat to global trade.
  • Studies show it can hinder economic growth, and leaders urged governments to recognize its negative impact.
  • The summit also addressed seafarer recruitment, decarbonization, and the need for international collaboration for a resilient maritime future.

The global shipping industry convened in Montreal, Canada, this week for a critical summit focused on shaping the future of the sector. The “Shaping the Future of Shipping Summit,” co-hosted by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the Chamber of Marine Commerce, Canada (CMC), brought together over 120 industry leaders from nearly 30 countries. This summit served as a platform to address pressing challenges facing maritime trade, with a particular focus on emerging threats and opportunities.

Protectionism: A Rising Tide

A key concern that emerged was the growing trend of protectionism, with leaders urging governments to recognize its detrimental effects. Emanuele Grimaldi, Chairman of the ICS, emphasized the unprecedented threat protectionism poses to free trade. He highlighted a 2021 study by the Harvard Kennedy School which found that reducing restrictive trade policies could boost the global economy by over 3%. Conversely, protectionist measures like tariffs and non-tariff restrictions were seen as harming global trade and hindering economic growth for all nations.

The Human Element and Decarbonization

The summit also explored other critical issues impacting the maritime sector. These included the ongoing challenges of seafarer recruitment and retention, the crucial role of seafarers in a sustainable future, and the industry’s commitment to decarbonization efforts. In this vein, the ICS launched its second seafarer recruitment video, “Life after Sea,” showcasing the diverse and rewarding career opportunities available in the maritime industry.

Collaboration for a Resilient Future

The discussions in Montreal underscored the need for international collaboration to navigate the current economic and geopolitical storms. Leaders emphasized that a commitment to free trade, combined with a focus on decarbonization and workforce development, is essential for building a robust and resilient maritime sector. The summit concluded with a call for continued dialogue, with the next round of discussions planned for Hong Kong Maritime Week in November 2024.

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Source: ICS Shipping