ECSA Vice President calls for political solution to Turkey’s unilateral action against Cyprus shipping

European Community Shipowners Association’s (ECSA) Vice President and President-elect Claes Berglund has called for a political solution to Turkey’s unilateral actions against Cypriot shipping which have been in place since 1987.

Berglund spoke to CNA on the occasion of his presence in Cyprus to attend the Annual General Meeting of the Cyprus Shipping Chamber that marked its 30th anniversary. He stressed that in view of the new European Commission, the EU should contemplate concentrating dossiers concerning shipping under a new Commissioner responsible for shipping.

He also praised the CSC’s active contribution particularly on more strategic issues that concern European shipowners, adding that the CSC has been particularly instrumental in safeguarding the regulatory framework that ensures the competitiveness of European Shipping, especially the Commission’s Guidelines for State Aid on Maritime Transport, which allow European shipowners to compete on a global level.

As such, ECSA and myself personally as current Vice President and President Elect, felt it was very appropriate to attend and address the 30th Annual General Meeting of the CSC in order to convey first to the CSC Member-companies but also to the Cyprus Government and various decision-makers the recognition that the CSC enjoys amongst the European shipowning community he said.

Asked on the restrictive measures Turkey has been imposing on Cypriot-flagged ships since 1987, the ECSA’s President-elect said the association is a strong promoter of a rules based multilateral trade system, governed by institutions such as the WTO.

Unilateral actions that hamper the free flow of goods and services or target specific nations to prevent them performing transport services are condemned as strongly as possible by ECSA. Political solutions are strongly supported, he stressed.

The EU should consider a Commissioner for Shipping

Responding to a question on ECSA’s expectations on EU’s administration structure for European Shipping, Berglund was very clear in saying that Europe urgently needs to have a strong vison on the European shipping industry, recognising it to be a strategic asset for Europe and act in a coordinated and unified way.

Concentration of many of the shipping files now spread all over the services of the European Commission should be realised by the new President of the European Commission. Ideally a Commissioner for Shipping should become responsible for the EU shipping policy, he added.

The ECSA board, he said has discussed the way the shipping files are currently distributed over the various Directorates General of the European Commission.

It is without doubt that the current structure is suboptimal and makes EU maritime policy not as effective and efficient as should be, he added, recalling that a 2017 Monitor benchmarking study, commissioned by ECSA, showed that one of the most important factors for a successful maritime policy is a strong vision and focus and coordinated policy actions.

On trade tensions, Berglund said trade wars already have had a negative effect on world economic growth and thereby on world trade, and a reduced economic and trade growth will impact European shipping as many of European shipowners are active in cross trades around the globe.

He noted however that the successful efforts of the European Commission to conclude Free Trade Agreements (FTA), including maritime services, are very much welcomed by ECSA and show that many countries still see the benefits of open trade relations.

Furthermore, asked on the impact to European shipping from the new regulations concerning sulphur emissions that will kick in in January 2020, Berglund voiced the industry’s operational and safety concerns over the worldwide availability of compliant and safe fuels as well as the realistic and pragmatic global enforcement of the regulation.

He welcomed the new regulation concerning sulphur emissions reduction which will bring great benefits to human health and our oceans, adding that the industry has worked closely with regulators on various preparatory and transitional issues and already started preparing for implementation.

On the cost impact, the ECSA’s President-elect said although the exact cost after 2020 are not yet known but it is expected that they will be much more expensive, than the residual fuel which the majority of ships currently burn.

The cost impact on the sector will thus be significant and this will have a substantial impact on the transportation cost of goods. While the shipping industry will find ways to adapt, since goods will have to continue to be transported by sea across the globe, I believe that the least developed, the developing and the States that are further away from where the goods are produced will without doubt be most severely affected by the new regulations, he concluded.

Source: Cyprus News Agency