ªaritime sector wants “more Europe” on shipping issues
Shipping and ship owner’s associations have called for “more Europe” including the creation of a common regulatory system and completion of the single.
Speaking at the Maritime Cyprus conference in Limassol, Thomas Rehder, President of the European Community Shipowners’ Association said that “as long as shipping is not as easy and straight forward as running a truck, we have not completed the European Single Market.”
International Maritime Organisation Secretary General Koji Sekimizu said that the governance of the international shipping has always been, is and will always be the subject of politics. “This is a simple fact. Politics has played a major role in the governance of the international shipping”, he said.
Sekimizu added that all the states have a responsibility for the governance of international shipping as this is a global issue. He also noted that universality is a value which IMO has together with the shipping industry generated over the last five and a half decades.
He said that the IMO is moving ahead when it comes to implementation, and that it has adopted a very important legislation to establish member states’ audit system. “And IMO is going to look into the performance of the flag state and portal state,” he stressed.
“My point is that the global system was created by governments and industry and together with the IMO. I am sure this system will continue to serve a sustainable shipping industry,” he added.
Assistant Commandant for Prevention Policy of the US Coast Guard, Paul Thomas, said that all the stakeholders, including NGOs, politicians and the shore side aspects of this industry, need to work together, to build a system of governance in order to meet the challenges that shipping faces in the future.
“There are significant challenges, including the reputation that this industry has as being lawless,” he said, noting that there are other challenges as well, such as the need to continuously grow the capacity of the systems, not just as it concerns the ships but also regarding the ports, and that the environmental footprint must be decreased.
Thomas said that those challenges require all stakeholders to work together to allow this industry to flourish. “I don’t see it as a competition or even as an opposition but as each of the stakeholders have a critical role to play,” he noted.
Vice Chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping Kerin Orsel said that she is impressed by cooperation between the government and the shipping industry in Cyprus adding that this is a very good example to be followed.
She said that the relationship between the ICS and the IMO is based on cooperation, adding that “we are all committed to continue improving maritime safety and protecting the environment”.
“At this moment Europe wants to make a voice and is creating rules and regulations which is sometimes ahead of the IMO and which all brings us in a very difficult position”, she added.
Thomas Rehder added that he does not think that the relation between regulators and industry is antagonistic and controversial but complementary. “It should be complementary because European shipping is on the one hand a market leader in the world, over 40% of the world shipping is controlled in Europe, but on the other hand European ships spend over 90% of their time in non-European waters,” he noted.
Rehder referred to the agenda of Jean Claude Juncker’s Commission and how this is related with shipping. “We could go back to the agenda of the Juncker Commission. Juncker understands the role of the Commission as very political and they have set a number of goals, amongst others the stimulation of growth, creation of employment, a digital agenda, and completion of the European Single Market. And all of that very much under the perspective of improving Europe’s competitiveness on a world wide scale,” he pointed out. “But completion of the Single Market is a true European issue.”
As he explained, when someone looks at completing the Single Market there is no better example than short sea shipping. “It is in many ways a low hanging fruit to be picked,” he said, indicating that when a truck is used to transfer goods in Europe only one document is needed, but when a ship is used there are as much as 90 documentary steps to be fulfilled “and at the same time you have to deal with different countries” with different regulations, instead of dealing with just one set of EU regulations.
Host Transport, Communications and Works Minister Marios Demetriades said that presence of the IMO Secretary General at the conference “highlights the importance or the shipping industry worldwide. From our part, from the governments’ point of view, we will do what is possible not only to maintain the strength of our shipping sector but to enforce it and to increase it”.
In his opening address to the conference, read out by Demetriades, President Anastasiades said that the discovery of hydrocarbons in our Exclusive Economic Zone creates new prospects for our country and our economy and widens the horizons of our shipping industry.
Anastasiades said that the shipping industry in Cyprus is a sector that operates on a global scale, and whose size and international importance go far beyond the size of the country.
Today, he noted, “Cyprus is an international shipping power and a renowned maritime centre combining a sovereign flag and a resident shipping industry with high quality services and standards of safety and security”.
Despite the economic crisis during the last few years, he added, “shipping related companies continue to trust Cyprus as a base for their operations proving that the island remains, for a multitude of reasons, a good place to do business in and from”.
The shipping industry, he said, “is a vital sector of the Cyprus economy and a catalyst for economic growth. The government is now advancing on our structural reform agenda with the aim of setting the foundations for sustainable growth in the long run, attracting foreign direct investments and eventually creating a new economic model for the country”.
He assured the conference participants that the government “is fully committed to safeguarding the shipping and maritime sector by doing its utmost to guarantee its continuous sustainable growth.”
The President stressed that “the discovery of hydrocarbons in our Exclusive Economic Zone creates new prospects for our country and our economy. These new developments widen the horizons of our shipping industry, creating relevant synergies and opportunities. A whole new industry is currently being created in Cyprus to meet the needs of the offshore exploration and production of gas and oil activities”.
“It is also anticipated that foreign shipping companies will relocate their offices and operations on our island in order to explore the benefits of the emerging east Mediterranean offshore market”.
Conference Chairman and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transport, Alecos Michaelides, said that “we in Cyprus are very proud of our maritime tradition and culture and we put great emphasis to the needs of those who fly the Cyprus flag on the stern of their ships, a ‘high quality and respected flag’. At the same time, we provide all necessary assistance to our resident maritime cluster that grows in size steadily since the 1970s,” he concluded.