Speech by Minister of Transport Mr Marios Demetriades at the International Investment Conference “BEST INVEST”

First of all, I would like to express my sincere appreciation for being invited to the 3rd International Investment Conference BEST INVEST. It is a pleasure for me to be here today, to address this important event and discuss together with distinguished guests and audience the shipping developments and investment in Cyprus.

Cyprus undoubtedly offers a unique experience to investors and shipping entrepreneurs to establish their business in the island. Capitalising on its strategic location at the crossroads of busy sea trade routes and offering attractive legislative and operational shipping infrastructure, the strong pro-business attitude, the multi-lingual and highly skilled human capital, a solid and efficient tax framework and an excellent communications network, have made Cyprus one of the most progressive and efficient business locations.

The maritime sector has historically been one of Cyprus’ most successful industries with continuous growth in the last three decades, despite the crisis that the shipping industry has been facing over the last few years.

Cyprus offers many economic incentives that place it among the most attractive investment destinations worldwide. Apart from the competitive ship registration costs and annual tonnage taxes, ensuring the fleet’s worldwide competitiveness, Cyprus has concluded treaties on the avoidance of double taxation with 60 countries and has also signed bilateral agreements of cooperation in merchant shipping with 24 countries. Also, the country’s effective and transparent tax and legal system, is another advantage of Cyprus. The Cyprus Tonnage Tax System, which has been approved by the European Commission in 2010, creates a climate of stability for shipping entrepreneurs in Cyprus.

The Cyprus flag is a high quality flag and the Cyprus Registry ranks 11th worldwide and 3rd in the EU, offering numerous advantages to ship-owners, who register their vessels under the Cyprus flag. The maintenance of a high quality fleet and the effective implementation of the internationally applicable standards for the safety of life at sea, the security of ships and port facilities, the protection of the marine environment and the standards for decent work on board ships are the foundations, on which Cyprus builds its reputation as a serious maritime flag and as a base for international operations.

Cyprus has over the years, become one of the largest and widely-known shipping centres in the world. Our remarkable maritime cluster consists of ship owning, ship management and shipping related companies, ranging from marine insurance, ship chartering, ship broking, financial services, equipment suppliers, telecommunications, port services, transhipment operations, shipping agents, ship chandlers and ship bunkering.

Shipping is traditionally a truly international sector that witnesses keen competition among the various registries and shipping centres. Cyprus is an important player in the international shipping arena and competes successfully with all the key international players.

The accumulated know-how, the experience and the high level of professionalism in our island’s shipping world, in combination with the Government’s maritime policy and support will definitely lead Cyprus shipping to even greater accomplishments.

Cyprus is witnessing a significant development of its cluster and this trend is expected to continue or even be increased in the following years. With systematic work, the implementation of proactive actions and measures, the maritime sector of Cyprus will continue to grow and develop under the new image of a quality-oriented and competitive registry and shipping centre.

At the same time, our efforts are also concentrated to the enhancement of our maritime cluster with new maritime services and activities. We are very glad to see that our efforts have been materialised and in the past few months we welcomed the establishment of marine academies in Cyprus, new ship insurance companies and the entrance of two Cyprus banks to the ship finance market.

The development of the maritime cluster is expected to be continued and further increased in the following years. Cyprus could also be benefit from the Brexit. Brexit offers an opportunity for Cyprus to attract companies that are forced to or decide to leave Britain, in order to retain their EU ‘citizenship’.

The geopolitical situation in our area is changing fast and Cyprus is in the centre of these developments. The discovery of hydrocarbons places new challenges to our shipping industry. Cyprus has the potential to develop into an important energy center in the Mediterranean. Offshore exploration and production of gas and oil, as well as their transportation ashore, require the operation of specialised ships and equipment and the supply of specialised supporting services. These new developments are very promising and widen the horizons of our shipping industry, creating relevant synergies.

Another encouraging component is the prospect of the lifting of the Turkish restrictive measures imposed on Cyprus shipping achieved via a viable and functional solution to the Cyprus problem. The lifting of the Turkish embargo will lead to great growth of the Cyprus shipping industry. Cyprus could be developed into a leading transit centre in the Eastern Mediterranean and become one of the European Union’s main sea transport and logistics hubs.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Shipping is a great asset for our country, a sector for which we have an international voice and for which we can claim that we are among the best in the world. It is, therefore, our duty and responsibility to preserve and further develop our role in the international shipping arena and to provide the adequate conditions for a sustainable growth of our shipping industry.

Cyprus will continue its efforts to improve and update the incentives offered to shipping entrepreneurs, and to explore new incentives ensuring that Cyprus’ attractiveness and competitiveness as an international shipping centre will be safeguarded.

Concluding, I would like to congratulate the organizers and particularly the SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS Magazine for the initiative to organize the investment event in Limassol and I am certain that the continuous success of the event will establish it as an annual event.

Source: Press and Information Office