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Jeremy Nixon answers questions on shipping and globalisation

Jeremy Nixon This shipping and globalisation interview (PDF) is also available to download.

1. Where are the busiest shipping routes? Have these changed in recent years and if so how?

The largest trade between any two countries in the world is between China and the USA. Collectively though the trade from China to Europe is larger. In the last 10 years China has become the predominant manufacturer and origin country for containerised cargo and this is expected to continue for at least another decade despite the current global economic down-turn.

2. What are some of the most popular commodities to be shipped in recent years?

Containers have been developed to handle the great majority of trading goods and commodities, including refrigerated cargo and bulk liquids. Some of the most significant commodities moving in containers globally by volume are electronics, clothing and footwear, automotive assembly components, and paper products.

3. Is shipping the best option for transportation? Why do you think this?

Ocean transportation is both cheaper and more environmentally friendly than other modes of transport (air, truck, train). Hence over 80% of all goods move by ocean vessels. It is expected that this percentage will increase in the years ahead as companies put greater focus on minimising supply chain costs and their CO2 footprint.

4. What would you say were the biggest changes to affect the shipping industry in recent years?

Technology has allowed us to build much larger ships, where their dimensions are now more limited by physical constraints (depth of water, size of lock gates). The largest containerships afloat are the width of a football pitch and three times their length. The engines can generate over 100,000 Brake Horse Power and a single propeller can be as large as a double decker bus.

5. How do you know where your ships are?

Today we have sophisticated navigational systems which track a vessels position and progress by satellite. This information is then updated into our central computer systems so that customers can go online, enter their container number and see where the vessel is and what progress it is making against its original estimated time of arrival.

6. How do you guard against piracy and is it a growing concern?

Piracy has been a threat to ocean going cargo vessels for centuries. Despite all the latest advances in technology, and having many national military navies around the world, it is surprisingly still a risk today. The most dangerous area right now is off Somalia and in the immediate vicinity of the entrance to the Red Sea. Most container vessels have an ability to steam at 25 knots on a consistent basis. Armed pirates however use fast speedboats to make the interception and have been known to take the crews hostage and demand large ransom money for the ship’s safe release.

7. A recent UN study suggested that the true scale of climate change emissions from shipping is almost three times higher than previously believed. What is NYK Line doing to reduce emissions and ensure sustainability throughout the company?

NYK takes its environmental responsibilities very seriously, and is investing in technologies and projects to reduce its vessels carbon footprint yet further in the future. It continues to upgrade the quality of its fleet and set-aside less efficient vessels. It is also looking at new propulsion systems (including solar energy), and vessel designs which will improve overall energy efficiency and the impact on the environment.

8. What role does meteorological forecasting, both short and long range, play in your industry?

Our vessels spend over 70% of their time at sea. Storms have two adverse effects. Firstly they can delay the on time schedule reliability of our services, but secondly they can put at risk damage to the cargo in transit. Hence long range weather planning is important to passage plan the optimum route to avoid the centre of greatest risk, and where possible minimise wasting additional fuel oil consumption.

The Geography in the News article Global Flows looks at how The Box can be used as a tool in understanding the workings of globalisation and global flows.

Further information about the NYK Group and the work they are involved in can be found on their website.

Jeremy was interviewed in April 2009.

Jeremy Nixon’s Biography

Jeremy Nixon is the Managing Director for NYK Europe. He is based in London and is responsible for managing NYK's container business in Europe and Africa. Jeremy has spent twenty five years in the shipping industry with both seafaring and management experience.
About NYK:

Japan based Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK Line) is one of the world's leading transportation companies. The NYK Group's diverse operations include shipping, cruise-liners, terminal and harbour transport services and logistics services, with operates approximately 777 major ocean vessels , as well as fleets of planes, trains, and trucks. The company employs around 51,000 people worldwide with offices in 240 locations in 27 countries, warehouses on nearly every continent, and harbour operations in Asia, North America, and Europe. NYK is based in Tokyo, and has regional headquarters in London, New York, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Sydney, and Sao Paulo.

NYK Line are involved in the BBC's initiative, The Box, which was launched to help explore the workings of globalisation. A shipping container has been painted with the BBC logo and a GPS (global positioning system) transmitter has been attached. Over the course of a year, the journey taken by this container around the world (with NYK) is being photographed, mapped and analysed. The BBC hopes to give its audience a better appreciation of the story of international trade and globalisation, as well as a deeper insight into the world’s current economic situation.

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