The government of Cyprus plans to strengthen its maritime position as the eleventh biggest fleet in the world and the third in the EU after Greece and Malta, by identifying new shipping markets and ship types within 2017, President Nicos Anastasiades declared in his speech to shipowners at the Four Seasons in Limassol.
Addressing the 28th annual general meeting of the Cyprus Shipping Chamber, Anastasiades praised the shipowners and ship managers in his speech, delivered by Transport Minister Marios Demeteriades, saying they have been “the closest collaborators of the government on shipping and a steady supporter in its efforts to improve infrastructure, policies and procedures so as to meet the increasing demands and challenges of international shipping.
He added that the Chamber’s contribution, support and cooperation was “substantial” in all shipping matters relating to technical and policy issues, as well as in modernising the maritime legislation, promoting the Cyprus flag and Cyprus shipping.
Both Anastasiades and Demetriades have reiterated the stability factor of the island’s shipping cluster, that helped in the recovery of the economy and presently contributes about 7% of the Gross Domestic Product.
Demetriades recently said that the government’s aim is to boost that economic factor to about 8.5% of GDP, following reforms, improvements in the taxation regime and infrastructure changes, one of which was the commercialisation of Limassol port that was taken over by DP World in January.
“We will do our utmost to enhance the competitiveness of our flag and of our maritime cluster. Our objective for the future is to consolidate and further develop our role in world shipping and to provide the conditions for sustainable growth of the shipping sector in Cyprus,” Anastasiades said in his speech.
“As part of the new shipping promotion strategy we have significantly increased our presence in important shipping capitals with a number of visits and road shows in Hong Kong, China, USA, UK, Germany and Greece. Furthermore, a study for the identification of new shipping markets and ship types has been recently completed and it will be fully utilised within 2017 with the aim to increase our fleet.”
Anastasiades also referred to the creation of three new cabinet offices – for shipping, tourism and development – but which have been bogged down in parliament.
“A testimony of our commitment and support to the shipping industry is the bill for the creation of a self-standing Deputy Ministry of Shipping, which we have submitted a few months ago to parliament. I believe that the introduction of this specially designed and innovative mechanism is essential, not only for reinforcing further this sector but also in conveying a clear message of political support that will constitute a convincing leverage for attracting additional quality shipowners and shipping companies to Cyprus,” Anastasiades’ speech continued.
“Shipping is a sector for which there has been a general consensus between political parties and governments throughout the history of the Republic,” he said, appealing to all political parties to approve the submitted relevant bill.
“The transformation of the Department of Merchant Shipping into an autonomous Deputy Ministry for Shipping and its planned restructuring will increase the functionality, effectiveness and flexibility of our public shipping administration, with a direct and immediate effect in the further development of both our flag and our maritime cluster.”
In conclusion, the speech continued, “regrettably, Cyprus shipping is still faced with the trade prohibitions imposed by Turkey on Cyprus ships calling at Turkish ports. I ensure you that, this issue has been placed on the list of the Cyprus government priorities and our efforts will be intensified and continue until these illegal trade restrictions are lifted the soonest.”
In her address to the meeting, Magda Kopczynska the head of the Maritime Transport and Logistics Unit of the Directorate General for Mobility and Transport expressed the European Commission’s view that the Turkish embargo on Cyprus-flag vessels should be lifted immediately, while she also elaborated on maintaining proper guidelines for state support in maritime transport.
CSC Chairman Themis Papadopoulos also referred to the problems faced by the Turkish embargo on the Cyprus fleet, saying this should be lifted within the scope of a revision of the current Customs Union agreement with Turkey.
Papadopoulos added that removal of the Turkish embargo would give a great boost to the entire Cyprus maritime cluster, while at the same time appealed to the parliamentary groups to urgently approve the bill on establishing the Deputy Ministry for Shipping.
Source: Financial Mirror