Logimar Srl - Shipping and Forwarding in Italy

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Logimar Tumblr, a forwarding agent company. Our headoffice's located in Bergamo close to Milan. Write us at info@logimar.it

Il tumblr di Logimar Srl, azienda di spedizioni internazionali. Siamo a Bergamo. Scrivici a info@logimar.it


web site: www.logimar.it





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ETHIOPIA became landlocked in 1992, when its Red Sea coast was lost to the new state of Eritrea. It lost access to its former ports soon afterwards. Since the outbreak of a vicious two-year war between the two countries in 1998, the Red Sea ports of Massawa and Assab have been off-limits to Ethiopian freight (see map). Instead, Ethiopia has to rely on Djibouti for imports and exports. That comes at a heavy price: it costs more to truck a container from Djibouti to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, than to ship the same container from China to Djibouti.

But losing the coastline has not scuppered Ethiopia’s merchant fleet. The state-owned Ethiopian Shipping Lines (ESL) has eight ships afloat and nine under construction in China. That is modest compared with the armadas of the biggest shipping firms. But having any sort of ocean-going capability is good for national pride. At ESL’s Addis headquarters, complete with portholes and model ships, the outgoing boss, Ambachew Abraha, remembers proudly his days as an engineer aboard the freighter Queen of Sheba. “She was a real beauty,” he says. “With her I sailed to Rotterdam, Hull, Middlesborough.”

Mr Abraha was recently replaced as part of a shake-up of the company, which has seen a portfolio of state-owned transit and warehousing facilities added to it. The aim is to offset the high freight costs Ethiopian businesses pay by streamlining the entire transport process. A new railway is planned from Djibouti to Addis, and dry ports inside Ethiopia will allow goods to pass more quickly out of Djibouti, cutting the price of storage and customs.

Last year ESL made a profit of $40m. The new umbrella company looks likely to do even better. But a lot depends on Ethiopia getting more access to blue water. Its trade officials plan to do more business via the port of Berbera in Somaliland, a mostly unrecognised breakaway from Somalia, and with Port Sudan in Sudan. They are also cheered by a Kenyan plan to build a “super-port” at Lamu, a Swahili fishing-town near Kenya’s border with Somalia. A new road and railway would connect Lamu with Ethiopia and head on to South Sudan and possibly Uganda.

It might also reduce the risk of Ethiopian vessels being captured by Somali pirates. They have so far escaped that fate, perhaps because the pirates fear that the Ethiopians would launch a swift and bloody reprisal. But for all shippers, the threat of Somali piracy has nonetheless pushed up insurance costs and forced vessels to make expensive detours.

ESL handles 45% of Ethiopia’s shipping. Most of this is on the company’s own vessels, but some space is bought from other shipping lines. China is financing ESL’s new vessels, which will have improved cranes and holds for handling more complex cargoes, such as the colossal turbines needed to build Ethiopia’s new hydroelectric dams. Many of ESL’s ships leave Africa emptier than when they arrived, but that is changing. The shipping company hopes to increase its exports of coffee, grain, minerals, leather and textiles.

Ethiopia’s maritime ambitions are not limited to ESL. A school for sailors has been set up at a university in the lakeside town of Bahir Dar. It has ambitions to train 5,000 ship’s engineers and other officers for the world’s fleets within the next decade—providing low-cost competition for Sri Lankan and Filipino sailors. The government reckons these sailors could send home $250m a year in salaries. They would also return, as Mr Abraha has, with valuable skills and a hankering for the briny unusual in a landlocked country.

The Economist

PRIVATE security teams patrol the decks of around 40% of large vessels in the “high-risk area” that stretches from the Persian Gulf to the Seychelles in the south and the Maldives in the east. When pirates attack, these armed guards respond with flares or warning shots. This usually scares off assailants (or sends them in search of easier prey). If it fails, they fire at an attacking boat’s engine, before finally turning their sights on the pirates. No ship carrying armed guards has so far been hijacked.

Most of the companies providing these guards are British, typically started by entrepreneurial former special-forces types. A four-man team can charge $45,000 for safe passage through the high-risk area. The cost to shipowners is partly offset by savings on insurance.

The idea may seem simple but its legal framework is not. Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea a ship’s crew, including guards, must abide by the home laws of a vessel’s flag state. But these vessels ply international waters, meaning that regulation is scant. An array of standards created since 2009 suggests good practice for private security teams, but none is legally binding.

Spurred on by the International Maritime Organization (which will debate the issue at a meeting next month), governments are now trying to write rules for armed guards at sea, such as how they buy and store the lethal tools of their trade. Britain wants a voluntary set of rules in place by the end of 2012, detailing the acceptable use of deadly force and systems for company auditing and accountability. It may suggest and define a “proportional” response to pirate attacks, along with approved weapon types and standards of training. Other countries are making moves too. American law now allows for the self defence of US-flagged ships within tight rules of engagement. India also allows armed guards; Greece is considering a similar step. The Japanese government is pondering a change to its strict laws, which prohibit civilian armed guards on ships.

The United Arab Emirates will this year start allowing armed international teams into its ports. At present most teams use Sri Lanka, Oman or Djibouti for weapons storage between jobs. They run the risk of prosecution if they carry arms in the territorial waters of Yemen and other states. John Bennett, of the Florida-based Maritime Protective Services says some firms play safe by throwing their guns overboard before heading home.

Pressure for new rules has come in part from human-rights organisations. Unknown numbers of Somali pirates have been killed at sea since 2005 as a result of clashes with naval and private protection forces. In at least one incident, security guards killed Somali fishermen, mistaking them for pirates. Such incidents evoke bad memories. The last thing that anyone wants, says Steven Jones, director of the Security Association for the Maritime Industry, is a “Blackwater of the sea” (Blackwater, now renamed Academi, is a private security firm which was sued in Iraq after the shooting of 17 civilians. It denies any wrongdoing.)

The new British rules may help to shape those adopted by other countries in future. They emphasise transparency, with the aim of differentiating respectable companies from domestic or international “mavericks”. But complying with them will be voluntary and is likely to involve extra costs. Firms may simply move to territories with less demanding regimes. That could create two tiers in the security industry: one that is respectable and regulated, and one that lives by improvisation, not by the law. A bit like the pirates.

The Economist

Increased insurance costs, longer routes to avoid pirate-infested areas, armed guards posted on board ships and ransoms paid for the release of hijacked vessels and crew push up operating costs for the global shipping industry, said Anil Devli of the Indian National Shipowners…

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