10 Jun Greek shipping sector demonstrates an “all-hands-on-deck” approach to COVID-19
George Pateras, President, Hellenic Chamber of Shipping, looks at the impact of the pandemic on a vital industry for Greece
The shock resulting from the spread of the coronavirus has been felt in global trade, with a noticeable drop in volume especially in goods coming from China. As president of the Hellenic Chamber of Shipping—the world’s largest association of shipowners and the industry’s official advisor to the government on shipping matters—what is your assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on the shipping sector in Greece?
Volumes and rates are substantially down. Greece and the global shipping industry have been through many different crises before that were created by many different reasons. This time, the crisis was not caused by financial greed or abuse of the system, so it is hard to assess. As we say in Greece, the sea never dies so I believe our recovery will make us more adaptable and versatile.
Greece has drawn widespread international praise for its effective management of the coronavirus crisis. In your opinion, what were the main reasons for its success in controlling the pandemic?
Our experts chose the correct pandemic model, and our politicians acted swiftly and decisively. This in turn gave confidence to the population that adhered to their advice. I am proud to be Greek today!
We learned that, if we want to be, we can be adaptable. Of course, it helps when politicians from both sides of the floor agree on a common goal. It works and it can be done.
You helped create the Maritime Hellas cluster, through which organizations from a range of industries collaborate to maintain and build on the important role shipping has in the Greek economy. What innovative solutions are you spearheading to help the Maritime Hellas cluster navigate the turbulent waters of the post-coronavirus economic shock and to mitigate its effects?
In its role as advisor to the government on shipping matters, the Hellenic Chamber of Shipping is currently working on policies to assist the commercial yachting industry and the renovation of the ferryboat fleet that is an essential part of the Greek economy.
Is there a silver lining to the coronavirus crisis for Greece and, specifically, for the shipping sector?
For me personally, the silver lining is illustrated by how the Greek community responded to the call of “all hands on deck.” The generosity of Greeks from the shipowning community, down to the last employee, to help enhance our healthcare system and make it one of the most robust and sustainable in Europe says it all.