ATHENS – They are the leaders in the world shipping industry – Greece number one then China, and now the two countries are involved in a dispute after China set its annual shipping exhibition to around the same time as Greece’s major Posidonia show in June, 2020.
In a report, the site TradeWinds said Greek oligarchs and shipping tycoons are angry about the clash in dates as Posidonia will come back after the event was canceled in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
George Pateras, president of the Hellenic Chamber of Shipping, described the move of Marintec in Shanghai from December to next June at short notice as “not a welcome development” and urged its organizers to think again about doing it, the report said.
Theo Vokos, Managing Director of Posidonia Exhibitions, told TradeWinds that some participants are “furious” at the move that went against an informal code between major maritime event organisers to avoid unnecessary clashes, breaking an unwritten agreement.
Marintec China announced it had cancelled its planned event in Shanghai in December and rescheduled it to June 2022, although it did not specify exact dates, saying the move was because of the lingering health crisis.
Posidonia, one of shipping’s highest profile biennial events, will take place June 6-10, the event the major showcase for Greece’s largely untaxed shipping owners to show off.
Greek shipping owners are adding to their fleets and have prospered even during the pandemic and dry bulk and container markets are booming again for them, the report noted.
The break in shows has the industry eager to resume then. “The international shipping community that traditionally gathers in Athens for Posidonia every two years, having missed the 2020 event, is awaiting with great anticipation for Posidonia in June 2022,” Pateras said in a letter offering support to Vokos.
Marintec organisers blamed the move on COVID-19 travel restrictions on domestic exhibitors and visitors and the “restrictive quarantine measures” for foreign exhibitors and visitors, leaving them little choice.
It is organised by global events giant Informa and the Shanghai Society of Naval Architects & Marine Engineers.
While both Posidonia and Marintec are similarly sized with more than 2,000 companies exhibiting at each, Posidonia far overshadows China’s attempt to match it, the Greeks hosting side events and parties drawing the rich.
In his letter to Vokos, Pateras offered support to efforts to get Marintec to reconsider the new date. “From our perspective this is not a welcome development,” he wrote.
“Anything that detracts from Posidonia and by extension from the interests of the Greek shipping industry, which is projected and promoted through the Posidonia event, will not be helpful,” he said.
“I find it surprising that Informa, with its close links with Greece, through its Lloyd’s List Shipping Awards and other concerns, would do anything that would undermine the 50-year-old ‘institution’ of Posidonia,” he added.
Some major Greek shipping tycoons were said to be lobbying Chinese officials to rethink the decision despite rivalry on the seas as China has been trying to clip at the Greek fleet for dominance.
Curiously, Posidonia is owned by the Vokos family, which also helped set up Marintec but management of the China event, along with other events and the Seatrade publishing operation, was sold to Informa.
Vokos told TradeWinds that the standoff won’t benefit either side and damage the value of each and showed his frustration at the clash.
“For the last 18 months during the difficult times of the pandemic, all the major event organizers have worked to fit their events around each other without even exchanging a word,” he said.
“That is because it is the right thing to do, because it’s the right thing for our clients, the exhibitors and visitors,” he said.
Themis Vokos, who ran Posidonia previously, said that, “The informal ‘code of practice’ on dates is not only about the commercial interests of organisers but – more importantly for those serving a particularly international industry like shipping – how best to serve that industry.
“The fragmentation created by the new Marintec dates is not in the best interests of the shipping industry as a whole,” he said.
TradeWinds hosts Posidonia’s official shipowners’ forum during the event at the Athens Metropolitan Expo centre on June 7 and the site said despite China’s explanation for the change of dates that some shipping owners in Greece think it’s driven by an attempt to bring in more revenue in 2022. Others suggest Marintec may not be concerned about a clash as it will be focused mainly on a domestic Chinese audience due to ongoing COVID restrictions. The site said it contacted Marintec for comment.