Olaf Merk

10 July 2017
The geopolitics of container shipping alliances premium
What is the future of container shipping? Will industry consolidation continue and, if so, who will still exist in 2020? All highly relevant questions constituting a fairly amusing – yet nerdy – game at supply chain conferences. This often comes with the predictable disclaimer: nobody really knows. However, there are three “facts” that make predicting […]
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5 June 2017
Towards a sharing economy of port terminals? premium
There is a lot of excitement about what is called the “sharing economy”. Its genius: money is made by intelligently mutualising assets. The advantage for companies: less need for investments in assets. Its prime example: Uber. Shipping is not usually associated with such cool things. Quite the contrary. At almost every shipping conference, people talk […]
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8 May 2017
Time for a new shipping narrative premium
Gustave Flaubert wrote a magnificent little book called “A dictionary of platitudes” a century ago. If someone would dare to write a similar dictionary on platitudes in the contemporary shipping world, the phrase “level playing field” would definitely need to be in it, probably on the same page as “global rules for a global industry”. […]
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28 April 2017
The new political divide and how shipping could bridge it premium
We already knew this, but the outcome of the first round of the French presidential elections has made one thing very clear: we have a new political divide. It is globalism versus nationalism, or: open versus closed that defines main political differences, no longer the traditional left-right dichotomy. The major enablers of economic globalisation – […]
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19 April 2017
Towards a port tax for automated terminals? premium
One of the biggest political issues of the coming decades is the future of work. Technological advances are such that more than half of the existing jobs could be automated. Automation might create new jobs, but these will very likely not offset the lost jobs. This has far reaching consequences: uncorrected, automation will erode tax […]
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13 April 2017
Disruption in shipping; regulators wake up! premium
What could disruptive innovation in container shipping look like? Surely a timely question. We have only started, but 2017 is already full of all kinds of disruptions; why would container shipping remain unaffected? There are obviously different approaches to this question; mine is the interplay of business strategy and government policy. The dominant business strategy […]
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26 February 2017
EU maritime year: window for strategic reorientation? premium
2017 will be a special year, in case you have not noticed. Each day brings the news of new political surprises that could potentially disrupt the global world order. If the last month is any indicator, 2017 promises to be the year in which everything needs to be reconsidered and nothing can be taken for […]
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14 February 2017
Shipping and emissions trading: in or out? premium
Tomorrow the European Parliament will vote in a plenary session on the possible inclusion of shipping into the EU-ETS. For some MEPs this may sound like a technical issue, best resolved in close cooperation with industry lobbyists. However, what is at stake is something more fundamental: the social responsibility of a corporatist economic system. Put […]
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4 February 2017
The sad story of a small island state premium
This is the story of a small island state. Think pristine beaches, massive unemployment and very high thyroid cancer rates. A country you might have never heard of were it not for its ship registry, one of the largest in the world. An international registry that is successful and well-respected, yet all but acts as […]
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19 January 2017
Make American shipping great again? premium
Eight months ago I wrote a piece on what the maritime transport agenda of Donald Trump could look like. It raised some interest in Argentina, but not in the US: shipping was not exactly heavily discussed during the election campaign. With the inauguration of Trump one day away, it is time for an update. At […]
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