“The fu­ture of the ship­ping in­dus­try in Cyprus is in good hands”

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

Cyprus can be con­sid­ered today as a power in In­ter­na­tional Ship­ping. It owes this to the peo­ple and or­gan­i­sa­tions in the ship­ping sec­tor; the Min­istry of Trans­port, the Depart­ment of Mer­chant Ship­ping, the Cyprus Ship­ping Cham­ber, the Cyprus Shipown­ers Union and all of the re­lated com­pa­nies and pro­fes­sion­als ac­tive in our coun­try all these years.

The Ship­ping In­dus­try of our coun­try is a uniquely glob­alised in­dus­try with a sig­nif­i­cant role in the Cyprus Econ­omy con­tribut­ing 7% in the coun­try’s GDP. It is a strong growth driver that man­aged to sus­tain prospects for fur­ther devel­op­ment through the re­cent cri­sis.

Of no­table at­ten­tion is the fact that the Ship­ping In­dus­try is prob­a­bly the only in­dus­try which sup­ports the Cyprus econ­omy with­out any state in­vest­ment. On the con­trary, it con­sti­tutes an at­trac­tion pil­lar for for­eign in­vest­ment.

The Cyprus Registry ranks high glob­ally. Though our achieve­ments can be con­sid­ered i mpres­sive, we must com­pare our­selves with the best and aim higher. We must ex­am­ine the rea­sons of stag­na­tion, as we have been stuck in the tenth place, and the Cyprus Registry has wit­nessed a de­crease in reg­is­tered ves­sels.

The pres­ence of a strong lo­cal ship regis­ter does not seem to be a strict fac­tor of com­pet­i­tive­ness, but it helps to cre­ate syn­er­gies and op­por­tu­ni­ties. It is a fact that our ship regis­ter suf­fers from the com­mer­cial and po­lit­i­cal con­se­quences of the Turk­ish em­bargo.

Cyprus stands at a cross­road today. Be­yond the con­stant cross­roads of our ge­o­graphic lo­ca­tion at the door­way of the Suez Canal, Cyprus stands at the cross­road of mov­ing ahead with a sta­ble outlook of growth and pros­per­ity. And at such cross­roads, a mod­ern Euro­pean state must en­able the growth of the driv­ers of their econ­omy.

Ship­ping has proven with­out a doubt to be such a growth driver. Our duty is to en­sure the sus­tain­able and pros­per­ous devel­op­ment of the sec­tor and con­tin­ued pos­i­tive con­tri­bu­tion to the econ­omy.

The in­dus­try has suf­fered from the Turk­ish em­bargo: from com­pet­i­tive reg­istries of other na­tions; from the cri­sis in the in­dus­try; from the lack of suf­fi­cient pro­mo­tion. And the lack of flex­i­bil­ity on be­half of the Mer­chant Ship­ping Depart­ment be­cause of the cur­rent civil ser­vice pro­ce­dures. Pro­ce­dures that do not al­low the ca­pa­ble peo­ple in the depart­ment to be flex­i­ble.

In fact, in com­par­i­son with the world’s top ship­ping cen­ters, like Sin­ga­pore, Rot­ter­dam, Pi­raeus and Lon­don, Cyprus ranks last, suf­fer­ing from low scores in a num­ber of key ar­eas.

In ar­eas such as gov­ern­ment sup­port by in­cen­tives and in­fra­struc­ture, sup­ply of lo­cal work­force, range and di­ver­sity of ser­vices and im­por­tance of the lo­cal port as a trans­ship­ment hub, to name a few, Cyprus rates poorly in com­par­i­son.

Cyprus en­joys a sta­ble eco­nomic, reg­u­la­tory and le­gal sys­tem, low lo­cal costs, and a strate­gic ge­o­graph­i­cal lo­ca­tion. We must strengthen our ad­van­tages to off­set our weak­nesses and en­hance our com­pet­i­tive po­si­tion.

The vi­able so­lu­tion of the Cyprus prob­lem is the ul­ti­mate so­lu­tion to the ef­fects of the Turk­ish em­bargo. Par­al­lel to the on­go­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions talks, we must con­tinue our ef­forts to in­form the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity and our part­ners in the EU. Cyprus’ veto to the Euro­pean course of Tur­key stands un­til Tur­key meets its obli­ga­tions, in­clud­ing the Ankara Pro­to­col.

This vi­tal sec­tor of our econ­omy re­quires strate­gic ac­tions to grow even more. To achieve this we must main­tain and im­prove the cur­rent ton­nage tax regime to make the Cyprus Registry even more com­pet­i­tive and po­ten­tially make it part of an in­cen­tives pic­ture.

It is i mper­a­tive that we con­tinue to i mprove and ef­fec­tively pro­mote our tax sys­tem abroad. At the same time, we must strengthen the in­dus­try in co­op­er­a­tion with the pri­vate sec­tor. We must make our pres­ence abroad stronger, of­fer bet­ter ser­vices lo­cally, and ex­am­ine spe­cial in­cen­tives schemes. We should even re-ad­dress cur­rent charges, to more ef­fec­tively pro­mote Cyprus as a ship­ping lo­ca­tion and re­tain the loyal in­dus­try back­bone.

The largest ship­ping cen­ters of the world demon­strate co­or­di­na­tion and co­op­er­a­tion in their ship­ping clus­ters. Top ship­ping cen­tres have strong stake­holder in­volve­ment and an em­pha­sis on in­no­va­tion and mar­itime ed­u­ca­tion. Peo­ple talk about the jobs of the fu­ture, but we for­get the jobs of the present. While we are faced with high un­em­ploy­ment rates, the Cyprus ship­ping in­dus­try has a hard time find­ing lo­cal skilled work­force. The skills mis­match in our work­force is true for the ship­ping sec­tor as well.

It is of vi­tal im­por­tance to fur­ther en­hance the ship­ping sec­tor in Cyprus. We must con­tinue the nec­es­sary re­forms across the board, re­form­ing and up­grad­ing the Mer­chant

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