Address by the President of the Republic at the 28th Annual General Meeting of the Cyprus Shipping Chamber, Lemesos

It gives me great pleasure to address the 28th Annual General Meeting of the Cyprus Shipping Chamber. Taking this opportunity, I wish once again, to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to the Cyprus Shipping Chamber and to all of its members for the continuous support shown to Cyprus shipping as well as their trust and commitment to the Cyprus Registry over the years.

The Cyprus Shipping Chamber, from the beginning of its establishment in 1989, is one of the closest collaborators of the Government on shipping and a steady supporter in its efforts to improve its infrastructure, policies and procedures so as to meet the increasing demands and challenges of international shipping. The Cyprus Shipping Chamber’s contribution, support and cooperation 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, is substantial and much appreciated.

Shipping has indeed evolved in the recent years as one of the leading sectors of our economy and it is navigating Cyprus to recovery. The shipping sector has been catalytic towards the steady recovery of the Cyprus economy, with a contribution of approximately 7% to the Growth Domestic Product, acting as a gateway of foreign investments to our island. We are well aware of the fact that the Cyprus shipping sector operates in a continuously evolving highly competitive global environment and that this, in turn, requires a stable environment which supports long-term planning and investment.

Despite the internationally adverse economic conditions and the financial difficulties that our country has faced in the last years, the Cyprus shipping sector has managed to maintain its competitiveness and its positive perspectives for further development as a result of the combined efforts and cooperation between the public and private sector. It is exactly this synergy of the Public and the Private sector as well as the State’s open communication lines with distinguished business people who are well aware of the international competition in the Shipping sector, that deemed Cyprus one of the most important players in this sector. Cyprus has the 11th largest merchant fleet in the world and the 3rd largest in the EU. It is also one of the largest Ship management centers in the World.

The sustainable growth of Cyprus Shipping is one of the priorities of the Cyprus Government: 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.

Efforts for the further development of the shipping industry have intensified since 2015, which was marked by our goal to develop and apply a holistic strategic development plan for the Cyprus shipping industry. A relevant study was completed, proposing measures that would strengthen the Cyprus merchant fleet and the shipping cluster. The implementation of these measures is well underway.

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.

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 the Parliament. I personally 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.

Shipping is a sector for which there has been a general consensus between political parties and governments throughout the history of the Republic. Any measures or actions that facilitate towards its further enhancement must be supported and as such, I call on all political parties to approve the submitted relevant Bill for the creation of a Deputy Ministry of Shipping.

We strongly believe that 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.

The Department of Merchant Shipping and the Cyprus Shipping Chamber will continue leading to new and better achievements. I am confident that, with the coordinated efforts of all the stakeholders in Cyprus shipping, the maritime sector of Cyprus will have an even brighter future. The accumulated know-how, the experience and the high level of professionalism in our islands shipping world, in combination with the Governments maritime policy and its continuous support will definitely lead Cyprus shipping to even greater accomplishments.

The Shipping Taxation System as well as the overall operational infrastructure is gaining strength and is very gratifying to see that more companies are attracted to Cyprus. In turn, we are committed to exploiting this positive momentum in order to ensure that the competitiveness of Cyprus Shipping will be strengthened even more, always within the spirit of the EU State Aid Guidelines for Maritime Transport, which are essential for the viability and further development of EU shipping in general.

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.

I am convinced that we will all together continue the hard work towards our goal, which is not only to maintain Cyprus’ leading role in the international shipping scene but to further develop and upgrade Cyprus shipping.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I wish to express once again my appreciation for your endeavours and contribution to Cyprus shipping.

I hope that the deliberations of your Annual General Meeting will be successful.

Source: Press and Information Office