THE CYPRUS shipping industry is in need of rebranding and restructuring to enhance competitiveness, Communications, Works and Transport Minister Marios Demetriades said last night.
Demetriades was addressing the Annual General Meeting of the Cyprus Shipping Chamber in Limassol.
He said Cyprus had become “a fully-fledged, well-known and respected maritime centre, combining both a sovereign flag and a resident shipping industry which is prominent for its high quality services and standards of safety”.
And, despite the international adverse economic conditions and the financial difficulties in recent years, the Cyprus shipping sector managed to maintain its competitiveness and perspectives, as a result of combined efforts from the public and private sectors, he said.
“Shipping has, in fact, evolved in the recent years, as one of the leading sectors of our economy and `navigates` Cyprus to recovery, in its capacity to act as a wide gateway of foreign investments to our island.”
But he added: “Both myself, as the political leader of merchant shipping, and our government do recognise that the shipping sector has stagnated during recent years and action is needed. This is due to both the increasing competition that Cyprus faces from competitive maritime centres, as well as the problems that the shipping industry has been experiencing. Our shipping product needs indeed some kind of rebranding and restructuring. We need to become more aggressive in promoting our flag and intensify efforts to attract additional companies to the island.”
Demetriades said that in an effort to develop a holistic strategic development plan for the Cyprus shipping industry, a study had been recently completed. The study proposes measures that would strengthen the Cyprus merchant fleet and shipping cluster.
Taking into consideration the study, he continued, “ as well as other recommendations made from both the department and the private sector, we are planning to implement a number of operational changes in the next few months. Among others, it includes the offering of incentives to the private sector for business development, the strengthening of offices abroad, the intensification of promotion events and other operational changes, including the upgrading of our software programs and 24-hour service for our clients”.
“I also intend to create a permanent link between the private and public sector with the objective to find ways to promote shipping in Cyprus. Our first mission will be to prepare a package of incentives that could be offered to maritime companies to relocate to Cyprus”, he added.
In the medium term, he said, Cyprus needed to change the way it worked by offering to the department of merchant shipping the necessary flexibility to fulfil both its regulatory, as well as its business development role. This has already been included in the terms of reference of the restructuring study, which is currently ongoing.