NEWARK, N.J., Oct. 12, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Well over 600 attendees flocked to the 5th Annual TPM Asia conference, held at the Intercontinental in Shenzhen, China on October 11-12. TPM Asia is now clearly established as the largest and most important annual container shipping conference in Asia. This year as in past years, leading figures in the industry took on the major issues and challenges, offering valuable insights, predictions, and guidance for the attendees.
The event featured a keynote address by Maersk Line North Asia CEO Tim Smith, who discussed at length the efforts by Maersk this year to change the dialogue of the industry toward reliability, stability, and ease of doing business. A series of announcements by Maersk this year, from its 18,000-TEU Triple-E ships, to guaranteed on-time deliver, to its Daily Maersk Asia-Europe service, has at the very least provoked debate and discussion throughout the industry, including at TPM Asia. "It is time to radically change the way we operate our business," Smith told the conference. "It's good that we can provoke a debate. We're interested to hear how our competitors reply."
About the conference, Tim Smith said: "TPM Asia is becoming a landmark annual event for the shipping and transportation industry in Asia. We value the opportunity it presents for dialogue on industry issues. And it is a great place for networking."
The event also included a rare keynote address from Walmart, the world's largest container shipper as well as the world's largest company in revenue terms. Rob Kusiciel, vice president for inbound transportation, told container lines that in an era of extreme volatility in freight rates and increasing commoditization in the industry, carriers need to think and act differently in order to effectively serve their customers. "We see this as a critical juncture in the industry. It's really a time when we all need to think differently and approach this business a little differently," Kusiciel told the TPM Asia audience.
The conference completes a 5-year agreement with the Shenzhen municipal government and the four Shenzhen marine terminals- YICT, SCT, CCT and Da Chan Bay-1. Due to the conference emerging as an institution in Asia container shipping logistics, the Shenzhen government and terminals together with The Journal of Commerce are actively discussing a new agreement that would begin with the 2012 event next fall, and details will be announced shortly.
Among other issues, speakers at the event wrestled with a perceived growing commoditization in container shipping due to volatile freight rates and the growth of spot rate indices—a situation which is at odds with the needs of many shippers for consistent, reliable service. Shippers speaking on the program complained of inadequate communication from carriers, but also in some cases noted that since early 2010 when many shipper-carrier relationships hit rock bottom, things have improved. "Good dialogue has taken place over the past 18 months," said Rick Smith, Vice President for Transportation at Sears Holdings, who is responsible for all domestic and international transportation for Sears, K-Mart and Lands End.
As part of Shenzhen maritime logistics week The Journal of Commerce was also pleased to see that Shenzhen sister ports and other European and global ports attended this year including Antwerp, Hamburg, Rotterdam, Nova Scotia, Charleston, Tampa, Mobile and Houston.
The increased attendees and sponsors, as well as broader topics this year emphasize the evolution of TPM Asia being previously Trans Pacific in focus but now effectively covering Asia, Europe, intra-Asia and Trans Pacific in equal measures.
Another conference speaker, Christian Sur Vice President of the Key Account Team of Hanjin Shipping Co. Ltd said: "A forum like TPM Asia, where you have all the industry representatives gathering in one place, allows for discussions and the opportunity to have a good prediction for the future. I don't see any other forum where all these parties gather together in this way."
The 6th Annual TPM Asia is scheduled for October 2012. Its American counterpart, TPM, the world's largest container shipping conference, will be held on March 5-6, 2012 in Long Beach, California. For more information on TPM, please visit: http://www.joc.com/events/trans-pacific-maritime-conference-2012.
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Peter Tirschwell, Senior Vice President, Strategy
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SOURCE The Journal of Commerce