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How can coastal shipping increase?

17 February 2016

How Sweden can increase its coastal shipping was the theme of a seminar organized by the Swedish Maritime Forum and Mälarhamnar AB. Coastal shipping is the traffic that uses the waterway along the coast. Most of the speakers addressed the importance of intermodal perspective, competitive neutrality between transport modes and greater cooperation between actors.

During the seminar, Erik Bromander, State Secretary at the Ministry for Infrastructure mentioned the importance of having a general and intermodal perspective.

- To reach Sweden's overall objective, the lowest unemployment rate in EU, a better transport system that can drive economic development forward is needed. In order to achieve economic, social, and economic sustainability, we must work through an intermodal perspective. On the basis of the maritime strategy, statistics are developed and the responsibilities of different actors are reviewed. We also have the maritime sector in mind in the new research and innovation proposition, Erik Bromander said.

Anders Wijkman said that Sweden must take advantage of digitization opportunities for achieving environmental and climate goals.

- The transport sector must switch to biofuels, electrification, efficient engines and autonomous vehicles, Anders Wijkman said.

Global transport patterns and trends were described by Lars Green, CEO of Green Consulting.

- Ships becomes larger and even more fully loaded. A further trend is that growth subsides. We have had 30 years with over 10% growth per year but received a sudden drop from 2009 to 2011. 2012 and beyond, we see modest growth, Lars Green said.

Working with cost effective alliances is one of the solutions to the low growth identified by Lars Green.

- I think that the cooperation will be deepened, but not in terms of IT development, Lars Green said.

Niklas Nordström, Mayor of Luleå and Anders Teljebäck, Mayor of the City of Västerås, said that one problem is that ports perceive each other as competitors rather than partners and that facts are not updated and available.

- If you have two ports they could complement each other and join forces to become stronger. It is also important that transparency increases and that correct facts are made available so that you can make sure that taxpayers money are used for the best option. Something you should for instance consider is why it is a cost to run the ship out of the harbour but not to drive out of the city by truck, Anders Teljebäck said.

EU's climate and environment policy clearly states that in order to reach its goals, more transportation needs to occur at sea rather than land. So, how can you work in order to achieve this? Jesper Kristensen on Unifeeder said the most important factor is costs.

- Costs are the reason for why a shift from land to sea will take place or not. Today, also some regulatory barriers to development exists and need to be solved. Environmental issues are only seen as added value for the customer and thus has no major impact on the development, Jesper Kristensen said.

Transport forecasts are often inaccurate. Hence, plans based on forecasts are often turned out to be wrong. 

- We need to stop being controlled by forecasts and instead be guided by goals. In the EU, 40% of all freight traffic are transported by short-sea shipping, but in Sweden the figure is only 7%. We have to analyse which ports that have the opportunity to compete and make shipping more visible to policy makers. We also need better comparable statistics to highlight the maritime sector as an option and continue to work with research and development, Christer Ljungberg, CEO at Trivector, said.

Lena Erixon, Director General of the Swedish Transport Agency, said that the shift towards increased transport at sea has been slow.

- Regulations and financial instruments have been one reason for the slow progress, but there may also be other factors, such as behaviours and ingrained traditions, Lena Erixon said.

- From an environmental perspective, it is clear that we need to transport more at sea, but a lot needs to happen in terms of fuels and energy efficiency. It is important to also consider the whole system and the flows. We see that there is great potential of coastal shipping, and you would have to dig deeper into this and identify which transport routes where shipping can have the most impact and what roles the state and other actors can play in order to better utilize shipping along these paths, Lena Erixon said.

Henrik Vourinen, CEO Port of Luleå, concluded the seminar by sending a message to the Swedish Traffic Committee.

- Maritime transport should be perceived as one of all transport modes and should be able to compete on equal terms. A mapping of the potential of the maritime sector should be commissioned by the government. Shipping is environmentally friendly, but we want to continue to improve and Sweden should be at the forefront of an international regulatory framework that encourages the use of clean ships, Henrik Voruinen concluded.

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