This summer, after months of (semi-)lockdown, we enjoyed the freedom to meet our friends and family again, visit the zoo, and other outings; we joined teams again to play sports and eat out, have a drink, take small trips - all so much fun because we hadn't been able to do so since March. And while economists debated the V or W shape of the crisis and the timing of its rise, the COVID-19 pandemic hit hard again with a second wave.
Now we are in a lockdown for the second time and economists are gloomier than before. All eyes are on the pharmaceutical industry, full of expectation for the vaccines that will make our lives normal again.
The maritime industry suffers greatly from the COVID-19 pandemic, and so does the harbour towage sector. The industry is facing major challenges due to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. The sector is witnessing downward pressure from the maritime industry, in line with the declining demand and downturn in manufacturing activities.
The pandemic exposed the vulnerability of long supply chains. The crisis began with a supply disruption, as Chinese manufacturers could not produce and transport due to the local lockdown. And when the lockdown shifted to Europe and the US, customer demand was also significantly affected. Inevitably, new trade routes emerged. The regionalization of trade that has already begun will be accelerated by the pandemic, China's One Belt One Road Initiative with emerging trade routes is underway; the Arctic Passages are initiatives that have less impact, although they are under development. These new trade routes enable the creation of new ports or contribute to the growing or declining importance of ports.
These changing trade flows will undoubtedly reflect developments in tugboat and tugboat design: specific requirements for tugboat versatility and strength increase the need for customised vessels. But not only trade flows affect tugboat development, decarbonisation and digitalisation have a major impact on designs. Furthermore, new service concepts will appear. All these points are addressed in this Newsletter. And as every year we have made our overview of selected towage companies worldwide: where do they tow, how many ships do they operate and has the fleet grown - you will find the answers in our Overview of Selected Port Towage Companies.