ICS Chairman Delivers Trade War Warning


International Chamber of Shipping (ISC) Chairman Esben Poulsson has warned of the threats facing the global economy during a speech in Tokyo.

Speaking on behalf of the global trade association for ship owners, Poulsson highlighted serious concerns about the challenges posed by the actions of the world’s leading economies, particularly the United States.

Poulsson admitted that the US has some legitimate concerns at the policies pursued by some of its major trade partners.

Indeed, Poulsson conceded that the ICS shares some of those concerns, in particular in regard to China and South Korea’s possible contribution to overcapacity in shipping.

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However, he insisted that international disputes over trade should be settled within the framework of global institutions, such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO).



The US-Sino trade war, according to Poulsson, is a threat to “the proven benefits of multilateralism and the existing global trading order underpinned by a system of international rules and norms which has brought peace and prosperity since World War Two.”

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At the same time as pointing out that maritime transport had increased by 30% since 2008, Poulsson said: “The view that international trade can be seen as some kind of zero sum game is demonstrably false.

“The ICS genuinely believes that these (trade disputes) are issues which can best be resolved through continued co-operation and dialogue, working through those international institutions which the U.S and others have successfully helped to establish.”

“The influence of the shipping industry on the geopolitical and trade policies which governments might decide to pursue is in reality somewhat limited.

“But as the servant of world trade, I do think our great industry has a duty to explain the negative implications of policies that may seriously damage long term economic development.”

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