By Ole Mikkelsen
COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Denmark and its maritime industry are lobbying to get the top position at the International Maritime Organization, a United Nations body that wields great influence over global shipping through its regulations, industry sources said.
The current secretary general of the IMO, Koji Sekimizu, is due to step down at the end of next year, and shipping journals have said Panama, Cyprus and Mexico are also preparing to put forward candidates for the post.
"In principle, it will be good to see a Dane in the chair as we are a global maritime nation that is committed to quality shipping and effective global regulation to ensure a level playing field," Anne Steffensen, the director general of the Danish Shipowners' Association, told Reuters.
The Danish Maritime Authority chief, Andreas Nordseth, will be Denmark's nomination, a second source said.
The Danish shipping industry, including the world's largest container shipping company, A.P. Moller-Maersk, handles around 7 percent of total world tonnage and transports 10 percent of the world's sea-borne trade.
The IMO has a big impact through its safety and environment rules, such as those on how much sulphur is allowed in fuel, which will force some in the industry to retrofit vessels, or the design of icebreakers that are in increasing demand as vessels start using the Northern Sea Route via the Arctic.
"There is no doubt that global rules drawn up by the IMO are a great advantage for Danish shipping companies," Steffensen said, since 90 percent of Danish shipping companies' activities take place outside Denmark.
Sekimizu said in September he would step down at the end of his first term in office, although he will not tender his resignation officially until a council meeting in December, when others can officially put forward their candidates.
No Dane has so far been elected as secretary-general for IMO. Danish Maritime Authority declined to comment.
(Editing by Sabina Zawadzki, Larry King)