Speech by the Minister of Transport, Mr Marios Demetriades, at the East Med Marine and Oil and Gas Exhibition Cyprus

It gives me great pleasure to address the opening of the “East Med Marine and Oil and Gas Exhibition”, organised for the eighth time in Cyprus, by M.I.E. Group of Companies, following the great success of the previous exhibitions.

Undoubtedly such efforts support and strengthen the island’s shipping and offshore industry, an industry which has emerged due to the fast changing of the geopolitical situation in our area. Shipping is a great asset for our country, a sector that we are all proud of.

Cyprus has been firmly established as a reputable international maritime centre combining both a sovereign flag and a resident shipping industry which is renowned for its high quality services and standards of safety. The Cyprus Ship Registry today ranks among the leading registries internationally and has the third largest fleet within the European Union.

Despite the international adverse economic conditions and the financial difficulties that our country has experienced in the last years, the Cyprus shipping sector has managed to maintain its competitiveness, and perspectives as a result of the combined efforts from the public and private sectors. Shipping has in fact evolved in recent years as one of the leading sectors of our economy. Given its importance, the further development of the Cyprus shipping sector is at the top of the priority list for the Cyprus government.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The geopolitical situation in our area is changing fast and Cyprus is at the centre of these developments. New political balances are emerging which are not unconnected with the discovery of energy reserves in our area. The discovery of hydrocarbons places new challenges to our shipping industry and creates new prospects for our country and our economy and a whole new industry is currently emerging in Cyprus to meet the needs of the offshore activities. Cyprus has the potential to develop into an important energy centre 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.

Besides being a successful shipping centre, Cyprus fulfils the criteria to become a trade hub in the region, as well as a transhipment centre for the Europe-Far East trade, due to its strategic location. The various shipping markets situated along the coasts of the Levant, North Adriatic and Black Sea can easily be accessed from Cyprus with minimum diversion from the main arterial routes. Equally, Cyprus is a hub for other main-line deep sea trades in the Mediterranean, as well as for inter-regional maritime traffic. With the upgrading of its key infrastructural facilities and a successful port privatisation completed in 2016, the island is set to strengthen its position as a key regional transport hub.

Cooperation in the hydrocarbons sector can also influence the political relations between the Eastern Mediterranean countries, building the foundations for regional stability and peace. The conclusion of delimitation and unitization agreements between countries sharing maritime boundaries can be fundamental towards regional cooperation. Such cooperation will strengthen the appetite for investment and development.

A possible lifting of the Turkish embargo will also lead to great growth of the Cyprus Registry and the port industry. It will dramatically increase the attractiveness of the Cyprus flag, Cyprus shipping and the trans-shipment of containers through Cyprus to Asia and the Middle East. Cyprus could be developed into a leading transit centre in the Eastern Mediterranean and become one of the European Unions main sea transport and energy/logistics hubs.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Cyprus can develop into an important energy center in the Mediterranean. New and vibrant shipping and energy projects can be launched and the policy that the Cyprus government will implement will include Cyprus’s future maritime transport needs for our hydrocarbons.

Our objective for the future is to consolidate and further develop our role in world shipping and to provide the adequate conditions for a sustainable growth of the shipping sector in Cyprus.

Concluding, I would like to congratulate once again the M.I.E. Group of Companies for the excellent organisation of this event and wish them every success in their endeavours.

Source: Press and Information Office