Whilst the issue of open registry shipping has constituted one of the
greatest controversies in the shipping industry over the last thirty
years, no detailed quantitative work has been carried out on the issue.
In this thesis transcendental logarithmic cost functions are estimated
for the production functions of open registry bulk ships and those
operating under traditional maritime nations. In this way an appropriately
unrestricted cost function for the flag dichotomy is estimated
and the parameters of the cost functions provide the basis for determining
the structure of the production technology of tankers and bulk
carriers under the two· flag groupings. Evidence of scale economies and
the extent to which they have been exploited by each flag group is
provided along with factor substitution patterns, own-price and crossprice
factor demand elasticities.
It is found that the costs of bulk carriers operating under open
registries are lower for all vessel sizes than for those operating under
traditional registries. For tankers/open tegistry costs are found to be
higher for product tanker services and lower otherwise. The translog
estimates reveal that the manning cost element is the greatest contributor
to the cost differential between the two groups. Open registry operations
are also found to be subject to greater factor substitution flexibility. Statistical analysis of tanker and bulk carrier time charter freight
rates over a ten-year period provides empirical evidence for the hypothesis
that lower open registry costs are passed on to consumers of shipping
services by way of lower freight rates. For this reason, a methodology
for measuring this benefit is suggested.
It is concluded that whilst this study provides evidence of the possible
cost to international trade of phasing out open registries, such cost
of itself does not provide an argument for retaining the system. The
social and economic rationality of retaining the system will be determined
by a wider cose-benefit analysis to which this study has contributed.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.