NO: DELENG / 2017 / 70663
official media partner of national maritime foundation
By Murat BAKAL | 04/02/2023

As Turkey, we all need to know that our maritime sector must be one of the priority sectors in order to reach the point we aim for in the world, and we must do our part in this national struggle. In this regard, government incentive policies also play an important role

The maritime transport and shipbuilding industry is ready to become one of the most effective sectors in reducing Turkey's foreign trade deficit, as it is based on high added value. In addition, maritime transport and the shipbuilding industry play a very important role in reducing the unemployment rate. Developed countries in the world regard and support maritime and ship industry as strategic sectors. Various studies are carried out in this direction in our country, but they are not sufficient.

Considering the current situation of the maritime sector, the crisis experienced since 2008 is now leaving behind and has recently become an area of interest for investors. On the other hand, since the markets are expected to increase further, ship prices increase in parallel with the freight market. Yes, we have left the bad days behind, but we have to learn what are the strategies to be considered in order to take lessons and become stronger in the future.

It is important how Turkish ship owners will evaluate the coming years and what method they should follow in case of economic crises. Here, the first thing to be done by the shipowners is to have an effective fleet management in order to minimize the losses caused by costs and errors. An effective fleet management means having an office staff where ships are managed professionally. In addition, investments in ships with low operating costs are another option. For example, when choosing a ship, fuel consumption, spare parts consumption, machine tolerances are among the most important parameters.

According to the results of the economic crises in the Maritime Industry in recent years, it is obvious that the industry should be more careful and cautious in the coming periods. As the age of the ship increases, the operating costs will increase as a result. According to the data of the Istanbul Chamber of Shipping, the Turkish maritime fleet seems to be getting older. One of the biggest reasons why companies lose money during the economic crisis is the old age of the ships, the decrease in the value of the ship with the Port State arrests and their high operating expenses. Owning new ships reduces the operating costs of companies and enables chartering contracts to be made under more favorable conditions, as well as providing more successful results in Port State audits and ensuring that ships are not deprived of their commercial activities. In addition, it also causes our shipowners, who serve the sector in this competitive environment, to gain reputation in the maritime sector.

Major crisis periods may not provide opportunities for new investments due to cash shortages. In order to solve such problems, Turkish shipowners should turn to sister ship groups of different sizes in times of crisis. There may also be more than one company in a fleet of sister ships. This strategy is a business system adopted by foreign shipowners to overcome crisis periods. At the same time, thanks to the cooperation to be made, the flexibility of operation and timing will be provided with the shipowners of different countries, and the level of competition will be increased, but there is no sister ship and company understanding in the maritime sector of our country. Shipowners generally operate their own fleets. Due to the lack of sharing of risks in such understandings, it causes many companies in the sector to go bankrupt in times of crisis. The weak balance sheet and high debt level of our Turkish maritime sector reduces its future investments and credit opportunities for new ship purchases. It is known that especially our small-scale shipowners are forced to sell their ships at low prices due to their inability to pay their debts. The method that our small-scale shipowners should apply in such cases should be “creating common pools”. In addition to these, Turkish shipowners operating ships with foreign flags, engaging in maintenance-repair at foreign shipyards and preferring foreign-sourced ship management companies cause the Turkish Maritime Industry to weaken even more.

It is necessary to defend that the mentality needs to change once again in the Turkish maritime sector. Cooperation with foreign companies, taking into account long-term interests, can create an opportunity for new investors, and how can we use these opportunities for the sectoral development of our country? This is what we need to focus on.

If we consider that 80% of the goods we transport in foreign trade are by sea, it is obvious that the importance of the maritime sector is increasing day by day. As a result, if the Turkish maritime sector is encouraged by the state, together with other financial measures to be taken, the shipbuilding sector and the maritime sector, which is one of the main industries of Turkey, will overcome the effects of the crisis with the least damage. Thus, it will reflect positively on the Turkish economy both in terms of employment and foreign currency inflows to the country.