When asked about the possible weaknesses and strengths of the container industry, Mr. Skou said that in spite of the challenges, the global container trade has increased 1-2% for the fiscal year. Among these challenges, are the trade tensions, especially between the US and China.
Nevertheless, Maersk has already implemented self-help measures to improve its cost agenda productivity, which are facilitate by technology. More specifically, Soren Skou stated that:
We use technology to transact with customers, as well as in port automation, where Maersk uses IoT to automate the machines that it operate. Technology can also help ships for fuel efficiency
Of course, the million-dollar question about whether Maersk is ready for IMO 2020, was a part of the interview. Answering this question, the company's CEO said that Maersk has a 'solid plan for compliance, to mitigate cost impact and to pass the extra cost to customers.'
As for the ways it will comply with the regulations, its fleet will start using cleaner fuels during December, while the company has already built up stock and supply contracts.
IMO 2020 will in turn make many companies pass the cost to customers, However, against a demand backdrop, Mr. Skou was asked if he believes that customers will be able to absorb that cost, noting that:
Maersk will be able to pass the costs to customers, while everybody understands that moving on to cleaner fuels is a positive agenda that is getting support
What is more, as expected throughout the industry, the 2020 sulphur cap is expected to further disrupt the fuel market. This is a statement with which Mr. Skou agrees. He specifically mentioned that IMO 2020 'is a massive change.' For this reason, Maersk alone has bought 10 million tons of fuel. Nevertheless, he explained that 'moving from high to low sulphur will have a massive impact on fuel market, and other sectors using heavy fuel will be impacted as well.'
Finally, Soren Skou was asked about the potential consequences of globalization, as many say that it has reached a peak. Mr. Skou stated that he does not agree that globalization has peaked, as trade will continue to grow, offering its benefits on jobs and consumption.
Recently, it was announced that Soren Skou will lead the climate partnership with the Blue Denmark, in attempts to achieve a 70% reduction of GHG emissions by 2030, in comparison to 1990; The Climate Partnership has to propose ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from shipping both in domestic waters and globally.
The background of the collaboration supports that "if the plan is to succeed, every man must be on deck."
Moreover, the Climate Partnership with Blue Denmark will find a number of sectors were CO2 emissions can be reduced, a step that will result to the launch of new technical solutions and fuel types, while also focus on the manufacturers supplying shipping equipment.
A goal is that switching to a greener future, Denmark will provide more and new jobs in the country.