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Cablegate: Hong Kong Ship Owners Receive "Amver" Awards;

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHHK #1943 2930522
ZNR UUUUU ZZ
R 200522Z OCT 09
FM AMCONSUL HONG KONG
TO RUOWCY/COGARD AMR NEW YORK NY
RULSJGA/COMDT COGARDWASHINGTON DC
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8768
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUEHGP/AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE 4165

UNCLAS HONG KONG 001943

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/CM
COGARD AMR FOR BEVERLY HOWARD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EWWT ECON ETRD ELTN ATRN PREL HK
SUBJECT: HONG KONG SHIP OWNERS RECEIVE "AMVER" AWARDS;
DESCRIBE INDUSTRY DIFFICULTIES

REF: SECSTATE 50181

1. (U) Per reftel request, on October 13, Consulate General
E/P Chief presented the U.S. Coast Guard's Automated
Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue (AMVER) awards to
participating Hong Kong-based ship companies. The event,
which was covered by shipping trade press, publicly
recognized AMVER participating companies for advancing
worldwide maritime safety and for participating in vessel
search and rescue operations on the high seas. Hosted by the
Hong Kong Ship Owners Association, the event drew over 60
members from Hong Kong's maritime industry.

2. (SBU) The awards were presented against a backdrop of
continuing operational and financial difficulties for Hong
Kong's maritime industry. Container traffic through Hong
Kong fell more than 20 percent in September YOY. Maritime
leaders here criticize the Hong Kong Government's lack of
support for the industry which, combined with the logistics
sector, employs 18 percent of Hong Kong's population.
Industry press have been reporting that increasing numbers of
companies are leaving Hong Kong for Singapore.

3. (SBU) Ship owners, managers, financiers, lawyers,
builders, insurers, and suppliers all described to us the
difficulties faced by Hong Kong's maritime industry as a
result of the drop in regional exports to the U.S. and
Europe. Ship owners complain that banks' overly conservative
credit conditions continue to pose difficulties for their
shipping operations. The lack of liquidity remains the
industry's biggest challenge, forcing many to sell their
vessels at a loss or to "send them to the scrap yard" to cut
operating expenses. In some cases, banks have gone after
ships of loan-delinquent owners. Currently, six Russian
cargo ships are being held in Hong Kong waters on behalf of
DVB Bank which is owed a total of $20 million by
Vladivostok-based ST Shipmanagement. Lloyd's List East Asia
Editor Keith Wallis told us that, without a recovery in cargo
exports to the West, such seizures are likely to be the tip
of the iceberg.
MARUT

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