The shipping industry
The shipping industry is one of the oldest in the world. Even the Neanderthals used aids in rafts or dugouts to cross water. Later, ships were increasingly used for trade and were at the same time war equipment and passenger transporters.
The shipping industry was and is the driving force behind world trade and water is considered the best transport route when it comes to large volumes. Statistics show that around 90 percent of world trade is handled by ships, of which general cargo ships in particular, but also tankers and container ships, play a major role. When we talk colloquially about the shipping industry, we are talking first and foremost about maritime shipping.
Strictly speaking, however, passenger ships and inland navigation as well as fishing are also included, but in the classical sense the shipping industry is more related to the trade routes on the world’s oceans. The link between Asia and Europe and across the Atlantic and Pacific is particularly relevant here.
Situation in the shipping industry
Especially at the beginning of the 21st century, the international shipping industry was in a deep crisis. Overcapacities were reduced and various companies experienced turbulence. This was compounded by falling freight and charter rates, which clearly had a negative impact on shipping companies.
However, consolidation is already underway and a number of companies in the shipping industry have entered into alliances or even merged. Of the top 20 largest shipping companies worldwide in 2013, more than half have since disappeared from the market or been taken over by even larger competitors.
The result is higher profitability and a return to profitability. The fact is that world trade has continued to grow in recent decades and there is no slowdown in sight in this area.
The situation in the German shipping industry
Germany has always been represented in the international shipping industry by a number of important shipping companies. In 2017, with 2,720 ships and 71 million GT, Germany ranked fourth among the world’s shipping nations and was only overtaken by China, Japan and Greece.
The past years have been characterised by a gradual modernisation of the ships and a clear focus on sustainability. Considering that the stricter emission guidelines of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) have been in force since January 2020 and that new regulations regarding ballast water also apply in 2022, this can prove to be a competitive advantage.
Since 2018, both reporting and verification of CO2 emissions have been mandatory. In general, climate protection is a major issue in the shipping industry and will become even more important in the coming decades. This can be seen in alternative and highly efficient propulsion systems as well as in the design of ships and the use of new technologies.
The Federal Ministry of Transport now grants subsidies for ships powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG), which are used not only for new ships, but also for the conversion of existing ships.
Investments in the shipping industry
As a result of the crises of recent years, German banks in particular have become more cautious in granting loans to companies in the shipping industry and have largely sold the field to banks in Great Britain, the USA, China and Scandinavia.
Crowd investing is becoming increasingly important, thanks to which shipping companies can obtain money and pay out high dividends in return.
The lenders act as subordinated lenders and, thanks to the bundling of the investment, are already in a position to invest in a growing market with amounts starting at around 500 euros. The ships are chartered out and the proceeds from the transport costs act as returns to the investors.
Investments in the shipping industry are possible both through crowd investment in whole ships and in the form of ship funds and thus as a direct participation in the company. Furthermore, there are even forms of direct acquisition of containers and their provision for trade.
The actual processing is of course carried out by intermediaries, i.e. whoever decides to invest in the shipping industry does not have to go on board himself or make contact with transport companies.