Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jun 13, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • G8 must scrap trade barriers for developing nations

  • SAMTRA develops course for fishing crews

  • Further confirmation of Alcan Coega plans

  • New ships on South African coast


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    G8 must scrap trade barriers for developing nations

    Pretoria (BuaNews) - South Africa has urged the leaders of the world's eight top industrialised nations, the G8, to scrap trade barriers in order to truly help the continent develop, rather than merely extending aid, writes Michael Appel.

    The G8 Summit in Heiligendamm, Germany, ended on Friday with the G8 countries Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States pledging US $ 60 billion to meet earlier commitments and support new development initiatives for the developing world.

    At the 2005 G8 Summit at Gleneagles, Scotland, British Prime minister Tony Blair "made securing a better deal on debt, aid and trade for Africa key targets" reports the Guardian Unlimited.

    Minister of Finance Trevor Manuel, attending a conference in London ahead of the 2005 G8 summit, said Africa was "becoming an economic success story, with growth set for another strong 5 percent this year and budget deficits reduced to almost zero."

    "It's not about lecturing African leaders any more. We will maintain these growth rates and good fiscal management," he said.

    "What we need is a timetable to get rid of trade-distorting subsidies."

    Manuel said that dismantling agricultural protectionism in the west would have to be accompanied by support for African countries which would have to adjust to freer world trade flows.

    He went on to say that Europe's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) slaps high tariffs on many imports from poor countries and subsidises exports of surplus produce from Europe, undermining the livelihoods of many African farmers.

    "The world's rich countries should spend less time telling African countries how to run their economies and instead concentrate on scrapping their harmful trade-distorting subsidies," said Manuel.

    The heads of state of six African countries including South African President Thabo Mbeki took part in the G8 summit.

    "South Africa's participation at the G8 Summit in Heiligendamm comes within the context of our country's commitment to promote North - South Co-operation in support of the African Agenda," the Department of Foreign Affairs said.

    President Mbeki also took part in the G-8 + 5 leaders of the South (India, Brazil, South Africa, China and Mexico) with a view to advancing the developmental agenda of the South.

    Economist with the Development through Trade Project at the South African Institute for International Affairs (SAIIA) Phil Alves told BuaNews that Mr Blair made a number of promises at the 2005 summit involving trade reforms.

    However currently, "agriculture remains the most distorted" problem facing Africa in terms of high tariffs and subsidies, he said.

    The US, UK and China's protectionist policies regarding farmers by subsidising agriculture makes it increasingly difficult for African farmers to enter the market.

    The ongoing, yet stagnant, World Trade Organisation talks in Doha that were temporarily suspended offer some hope for removing damaging trade policies.

    Market access currently remains one of the biggest obstacles for Africa's trade abroad.

    Alves says the current G8 summit is important in terms of getting the G8 delegates to say "we are committed to get [the] Doha [trade talks] concluded."

    Once this has been agreed, "then we can start to expect to see things working."

    One of the key players in securing trade liberalisation, Alves says, is Germany.

    France is not in favour of breaking down trade barriers as its agriculture is highly politicised and subsidised, says Alves.

    Germany currently chairs the European Union and "is important to the G8 [as it will be able] to soften the French position."

    Research Fellow on South African Foreign Policy at the SAIIA Tom Wheeler, also speaking to BuaNews on Friday, said trade liberalisation was indeed an obstacle to Africa, compounded by the fact that "developed countries protect their farmers like endangered species".

    The German Presidency announced prior to the summit that it "is taking a three-pronged approach, with debt relief, new pledges of Oversees Development Aid (ODA) and further multilateral debt cancellation pledges and now also initiatives to improve Africa's economic forces."

    Africa has fallen short of many of its Millennium Developments Goals (MDGs), and the German Presidency believes that "with the help of investment and economic growth" and with "pledges of increased ODA" these goals can be attained.

    As part of Germany's three-pronged approach regarding Africa, good governance, encompassing anti-corruption and transparency; strengthening regional integration with the African Union; and fighting HIV and AIDS and achieving peace and security are vital.

    SAMTRA develops course for fishing crews

    Following requests from the fishing industry, Samtra (South African Maritime Training Academy) recently developed a course to address the lack of opportunity to acquire appropriate steering time that is afforded to many deckhands in fishing vessels.

    This issue is becoming an increasing problem as a result of the newly propagated STCW (fishing) regulations that are being enforced by SAMSA (South African Maritime Safety Authority).

    The course is primarily aimed at deck hands who are required to hold steering certificates and is conducted using real time ship simulators combined with theoretical training to provide ratings with knowledge and experience in steering a vessel.

    Proper lookout procedures, helmsman duties and conning orders as well as basic and advanced steering under various conditions are covered during this four-day course.

    A high ratio of two trainees per instructor ensures an intensive training programme that allows for close observation and mentoring of all trainees and ensures a quality learning experience, according to Bridget Thompson, sales and marketing (officer) at Samtra.

    The trainees are evaluated on a continuous basis and certificates are issued if the competencies requirements are met.

    In accrediting this course SAMSA has agreed to allow a 50 percent remission of the total real time steering requirement of successful candidates, in recognition of the benefits of the experiential learning that takes place in simulator-based training.

    This training programme falls under the auspices of the Danish government skills development programme for the fishing industry, which allows for a 80 percent -100 percent subsidy on course fees, subject to the black empowerment status of companies who send trainees for such training.

    “The benefits to the fishing industry are that trainees are exposed to a high standard of training which addresses the problems of inconsistent training standards that may be experienced from vessel to vessel in real time operations, that a remission of steering time is obtained and that the cost of this training is subsidised by the Danish government,” Thompson says

    - this report first appeared in Cape Business News (www.cbn.co.za)

    Further confirmation of Alcan Coega plans

    Canadian aluminium manufacturer Alcan this week appointed a new chief executive officer to head up the proposed Alcan aluminium smelter at Coega in the Eastern Cape – yet another indication that the Canadian company is serious about entering into a contract with South Africa to build the smelter next to the new port of Ngqura.

    The new CEO is Montreal-born Brent Hegger, who takes over from Hal Spencer when he retires at the end of June. The announcement was accompanied by a statement that the project remained subject to the successful completion of ongoing negotiations and financial arrangements.

    Alcan’s statement issued on Monday reads:

    ‘Alcan is pleased to announce the appointment of Brent Hegger as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of COEGA Aluminum smelter project. He will be responsible for completing the proposed 720kt greenfield COEGA aluminum smelter project, which will have a total estimated cost of US $ 2.7 billion, and is expected to be completed by 2010.

    Brent Hegger is well equipped to assume his new responsibilities and to see the COEGA aluminum smelter project through to a successful completion. His impressive international experience in the aluminum industry is highlighted by the key role he has played in the construction of several aluminum smelters in Africa, making him the natural choice," said Yvon D'Anjou, Vice-President Business Development and Technology, Equipment, Sales and Services, Alcan Primary Metal Group.

    Commenting on his appointment, Mr. Hegger said: "It is a privilege to have this opportunity to lead such an important project for South Africa. I am equally proud to be leading this project for Alcan, whose sustainability
    values and corporate governance have long been recognized around the world."

    For three consecutive years, Alcan has been included on the annual Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World list, announced each year at the World Economic Forum in Davos. This year, Alcan was also named the 'World's Most Admired Metals Company' by Fortune magazine.

    Mr. Hegger will replace the retiring Hal Spencer, who will continue to work during the transition that will formally take effect 1 July 2007. Mr. Hegger has worked on numerous major projects in Canada, Russia, South Africa, Mozambique, Malaysia, and Chile. He was born in Montreal, Canada and first worked for Alcan as a process engineer in Arvida, Quebec. Mr. Hegger is married to a South African and has 3 children.’

    Alcan is currently subject to a hostile takeover bid by rival US aluminium group Alcoa.

    New ships on the coast

    A number of new ships have begun appearing on the South African coast as lines adjust their services to increased volumes and time constraints.

    The latest which sailed from Cape Town in the past week was the 4,154-TEU fully cellurised container ship SAFMARINE MAFADI, which joins two other recent newbuilds SAFMARINE MERU and SAFMARINE MULANJE already on the Far East – South Africa (SAFARI) service. The 60,700-dwt ship is one of the larger container vessels calling of a regular basis and although her length of 292m is approximately 40m longer than the Big Whites also deployed on the same service, the ship remains Panamax capable with a beam of 32.2m. The three identical ships were built at the Hyundai Heavy Industries Shipyard in South Korea where a fourth sister vessel remains to be delivered. (See picture of Safmarine Mafadi in yesterday’s News Bulletin – 12 June 2007)

    Another ‘new face’ on the coast is the 23,132-gt CAPE DARBY on charter to MACS Line (Macs Maritime Carrier Shipping) for their Northern Europe to South Africa breakbulk and Ro-Ro service. Cape Darby, which is managed by Columbia Ship Management of Germany is able to carry up to 1842 TEU along with general cargo. She was built in 2001.

    In May MACS Line introduced another charter vessel, the diminutive container ship HEINRICH SIBUM of 9981-gt, which completed building earlier this year. This brings to eight the number of vessels now deployed by MACS on the service.

    Another MACS ship, the 5952-gt heavylift cargo carrier CHEYENNE is back on the coast after a brief sojourn in the Far East. The vessel was acquired by MACS last year to seek out project cargo along the African coast.


    Click image to enlarge

    SMIT Amandla’s supply tug PENTOW SERVICE seen entering the Durban harbour channel. Picture by Terry Hutson

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