Baltic Exchange

The only physical market place in the world specialising in the chartering of dry-cargo ships and commodities is the Baltic Exchange, in London, although with the advent of modern communications fewer and fewer fixtures are being made every year. Nevertheless members of the Exchange, both corporations and individuals are engaged in numerous other spheres, ranging from the sale and purchase of ships and aircraft through to commodity trading and futures markets. The motto of the Exchange – “Our Word Our Bond” – is the same as that of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers, and symbolises the importance of ethics in trading – the principal of treating others as one would wish to be treated oneself, and it remains possible to walk on to the Exchange in a broker member’s capacity and to leave an hour later having verbally committed your Principal to employ a ship or to provide transportation for a cargo. It can be seen that the persons populating the international dry-cargo shipping ‘market’ have nationalities, knowledge and backgrounds as varied as the range of commodities and ship types and sizes that are to be found. But the people at least can be sub-divided a little more certainly into the following categories. Those who ‘charter’ ships to carry commodities. There are many kinds of Charterers, from individuals operating small corporations and concerned only with the carriage of a particular commodity, through to major international trading-houses whose involvement in the international dry-cargo market (significant as that may be to that market) represents a very small part of their overall corporate activities. Consequently, some Charterers are involved as ‘Traders’ in the worldwide purchase, sale and transportation of a range of goods – e.g. grains, fertilisers, minerals, etc. – others, perhaps Manufacturers, Mine-Owners, Farmers, Shippers or Receivers, for a single commodity or from a particular geographic area. Still other Charterers may be state-operations – e.g. the President of India (in other words the Indian Government) – government employees being given the task of securing suitable sips for the state needs. It is a worthwhile exercise for those learning about this subject to make a point of studying as regularly as possible lists of reported dry-cargo fixtures, and to try to categorise Charterers into one or more appropriate headings.