Cyprus launches maritime reform

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Cyprus is introducing measures to make the shipping industry more flexible, competitive, and innovative, with President Anastasiades saying his Cabinet approved a package to enhance “its leadership presence in the European and world maritime sectors.”

Speaking at a dinner hosted by the Cyprus Union of Shipowners in Athens on Thursday night, Anastasiades said the digital restructuring of the Deputy Ministry of Shipping is moving ahead rapidly, allowing for a better provision of services through the creation of the one-stop-shop.

This initiative, he said, has secured funding as it is included in the Recovery and Resilience Plan, and the shipping tax regime has been boosted with additional incentives for environmentally friendly shipping.

“This is an effort to reward shipowners for responding to the challenges of green transformation.”

Anastasiades said the new maritime policy includes 35 targeted initiatives to ensure Cyprus shipping enjoys a sustainable future.

Of these, six actions are being implemented or are underway, reflecting the current needs of the industry.

These include a framework for the registration of Maritime Limited Liability Companies, for which legislation is ready to be tabled; enhancing the network and staffing of shipping representative offices abroad; creation of the e-Maritime Library; the e-Helpdesk as a central contact point to ensure quick response; financial tools that encourage further research and innovation in shipping.

Anastasiades praised the shipping sector’s resilience, despite the adverse conditions caused by the pandemic and thanked the CUS members for their contribution and consultations in all reform efforts.

He said the sector continues on a growth path as the shipping sector’s contribution to the Cypriot economy remains a steady 7% of GDP, while the output of the commercial fleet is 25 mln gross tonnes.

He also referred to an increasing trend in setting up shipping companies in Cyprus, which, he said, is a “vote of confidence” for government policies to upgrade the services offered to shipowners and ship managers choosing Cyprus as the base of their activities.

The government’s sensibility to its shipping partners was also displayed through its immediate response to the humanitarian issue of repatriating seafarers who found themselves trapped due to the pandemic and allowing crews to change.

More than 25,000 seafarers were repatriated from Cyprus ports, the President underlined.

He said 40,000 seafarers employed in Cyprus-flagged ships or ships managed from Cyprus got the jab through the government’s national vaccination programme.

In his speech, CUS President Andreas Hadjiyiannis said they had witnessed the priority ascribed to shipping matters by the government and the President himself.

He said it was odd that the EU has not acknowledged the place the shipping sector deserves.

President Anastasiades responded: “I can justify the bitterness expressed by all those involved in the shipping industry regarding some of the EU’s maritime policies.”