Danish shipping industry sails to the top of Europe

After a disastrous 2009, Danish shipping looks poised to generate the most revenue in Europe and the third most in the world, behind Japan and China

After enduring financially choppy waters over the past few years, the Danish shipping industry looks to have found favourable currents that will propel it to the top of Europe by the end of this year.

The Danish ship owners’ association, Danmarks Rederiforening, calculated that the nation’s shipping fleet is poised to generate an estimated 190 billion kroner this year, the largest profits in Europe.

“We don’t have the final statistics yet, but the indications and the analyses that we can compile now are all pointing to Denmark becoming number one,” Jan Fritz Hansen, the deputy head of Danmarks Rederiforening, told Berlingske Business.

Overcoming the crisis
The development means that Denmark is on the brink of achieving the 2006 vision set forward by the then trade minister, Bendt Bendtsen (K), that Denmark should be the most profitable maritime nation in Europe.

The global financial crisis threatened to scupper that vision in 2009 when annual profits fell for the first time since 2002, to around 135 billion kroner, but Danish shipping looks to have successfully sailed the seas.

“We are five or six years into a crisis that has been very challenging for Danish shipping, so it’s impressive that we have managed [to reach number one],” Hansen said. “Until now, we have navigated the crisis well and our general evaluation is that we’ve kept or added market shares during the crisis.”

US market has potential
While other European nations, such as Germany and Greece, have a larger shipping fleet than Denmark, the Danish fleet generally transports goods that are more valuable, thus generating more revenue.

Danish shipping firms also have their sights set on finding more success in the lucrative US market.

Currently, A.P. Moller – Maersk and other Danish shipping companies enjoy profits of over 30 billion kroner a year from the US market, around 15 percent of total revenue. Peter Taksøe-Jensen, the Danish ambassador to the US, expects an even larger payoff in the future.

“We expect that it will continue to rise. When the American economy improves, the market will expand and that is a situation that Danish shipping is traditionally good at capitalising on,” Taksøe-Jensen told Berlingske Business.

Still behind Japan and China
According to Danmarks Rederiforening, aside from the 15 percent earned in the US, Danish shipping makes 25 percent of its earnings in Europe, 20 percent in China (including Hong Kong), ten percent in Japan and East Asia, ten percent in the Middle East and India, and 20 percent elsewhere in the world.

Denmark’s rise to the zenith of European shipping would put it at third in the world, following Japan and China.

The industry's forward march comes in the wake of the world's largest container ship, the ’Majestic Maersk’, stopping in Copenhagen last month on its maiden voyage.