Russia sanctions on shipping ‘manageable’

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The impact of European Union measures against Russia on Cyprus’ maritime industry is “totally manageable,” said shipping minister Vassilis Demetriades.

Briefing the parliamentary committee on budgetary affairs, Demetriades said that 144 ships had been delisted from the Cypriot registry in the first ten months of 2022, as they could not remain under the Cypriot flag because of trading with Russia.

But Demetriades said that 122 new ships were listed in the Cypriot registry in the same period.

“Therefore, sanctions against Russia may not have allowed us to have an increase in ships, but the reduction is at a totally manageable extent”.

Demetriades told MPs that some sanctions against Moscow resulted in punishing European shipping without isolating Russia and its economic interests.

As in the case of the embargo against Russian oil, many ships may opt to be removed from the Cypriot registry, list on a third-country registry, and continue to trade with Russia.

“Therefore, we shoot ourselves in the foot.”

He called for uniform implementation of sanctions against Russia, especially on the issue of the cap against Russian oil, as the EU and G7 countries represent only 17% of the global tanker fleet.

Demetriades said his Deputy Ministry raised the issue of Ankara’s embargo on Cypriot shipping.

Creating a “disadvantage” for Cyprus shipping which has the 11th largest fleet worldwide, while the island constitutes the EU’s largest ship-management centre.

He added the Deputy Ministry encourages shipowners that don’t trade with Turkey to try Cyprus, which offers a complete cluster of shipping services.

“But if one day the Turkish embargo is lifted, the Cypriot shipping industry prospects will spike.”

Since 2012 the companies registered under the Cypriot tonnage tax system have tripled, increasing income to more than €1.5 mln in the last two years.

On the passenger ferry connection between Greece and Cyprus, which was restored this summer after 20 years with a state subsidy, Demetriades said it transported 7,412 passengers, 1,946 vehicles and 205 pets, while only 37 passengers complained about the service.

He said this year was the first step, and next year will be more crucial “to see whether we have recurring passengers and whether we will be able to create a market.”

The Turkish embargo has been imposed since 1987 against the ships carrying the Cypriot flag, ownership or management, extended in 1997 against vessels under any flag sailing to Turkish ports directly from any port of the Republic of Cyprus.