ABN Amro has encouraged US banks to take advantage of the growing shortfall in international and US shipping finance.

The announcement was made at ABN Amro’s Capital Link International Shipping forum in New York on Monday.

Harris Antoniou, the bank’s global head of energy, commodities and transportation (ECT), believes that US banks can help fill the funding gap created by European banks reducing their lending commitments ahead of new Basel III capital regulations.

“New Basel III regulations are causing European banks to reconsider their exposure to shipping, and ironically, most European banks are unable to fully fund their shipping loan portfolios in US dollars. Capital markets are providing part of this shortfall and industrial end users themselves are increasingly entering the picture.”

“US banks have an exceptional opportunity to support international and US shipping finance and local investors should be making the case,” Antoniou said at the forum.

The forum also highlighted the growing trend of industrial end users entering shipping finance, including resources and trading companies. Further to that, shipbuilders are poised to move beyond their traditional activities and specialist vessel ownership into mainstream shipping finance, Antoniou believes.

Additionally, more banks are being urged to join the ‘Shipping Sustainability Initiative’.

“SSI is designed to help the industry make long-term plans for its future success. An industry with long-lived assets needs long-term thinking and this initiative aims to help members to think beyond the next regulation or design tweak,” Antoniou noted.

Headquartered in Amsterdam, ABN Amro’s ECT offices are located in Athens, Dallas, Dubai, Hong Kong, London, New York, Oslo, Rotterdam, Sao Paulo and Singapore. A Shanghai office is also due to open soon, the bank confirms.