The Bahamas eyes more growth in Asia

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Expanding The Bahamas Maritime Authority’s (BMA) presence in Asia, home to the world’s fastest-growth shipping industry, was an opportunity too good to miss, according to one of The Bahamas flag registry’s executives.

Capt. Jahangir Hussain, Regional Director for Asia, said getting representation in South Korea through an agreement with marine and logistics provider Ben Line Agencies would help drive The BMA’s continued growth in the region.

“South Korea is a top 10 ship-owning nation and one of the largest shipbuilders in the world,” Capt. Hussain said about The BMA’s partnership with Ben Lines, which was announced in January 2022. “And Asia is home to five of the world’s top 10 ship-owning nations, so it makes strategic sense for us to increase our presence in the region’s major shipping hubs.”

Capt. Hussain added: “By establishing an agent in South Korea, The BMA can support clients in China, Japan and South Korea on their doorstep. We’re keen to continue our ambitious plan of building operations in other strategic locations across the region.”

Bahamas dominates the LNG and offshore sectors in Asia, with many of the big operators in those markets flying The Bahamian flag. The BMA plans to add more vessels from those sectors to its fleet, and to increase the number of cargo ships registered to The Bahamas.

On why ship operators in Asia should register vessels with The BMA, Capt. Hussain said: “The BMA’s rapid proportional growth in Asia in the past decade showcases our superiority over other flags. We have a huge competitive edge over other large open registries in the Asian market.

“We’re an open registry and a quality flag with competitive registration fees and prompt customer service.”

While opportunities abound for ship registries eyeing Asia, the region also presents challenges such as congestion at Chinese ports.

“Arguably, the infrastructure of some Chinese ports struggled to keep pace with the nation’s rapid economic growth in the last few decades,” Capt. Hussain said. “But the good news is that Bahamas-registered ships get a 28% discount at Chinese ports and preferential treatment for securing berths as part of the Preferential Maritime Agreement with China.”

Another benefit of The Bahamas flag is its record with Port State Control (PSC). As a flag, it also has the QUALSHIP 21 status and is also one of the top flags within the Paris and Tokyo Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) whitelists. In addition, the Bahamas remains active within the regulatory process including taking leadership roles at the IMO and ILO where it collaborates with industry bodies and other strategic partners, including Bahamas Shipowners Association, INTERTANKO, OCIMF, International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) amongst others to ensure goal-based regulations that can be effectively implemented by all parties. The recent ICS 2020-21 Flag State Performance Table confirmed The Bahamas as a top-performing flag state with positive scores across all 19 categories.