Despite the financial difficulties cause by pandemic restrictions, Cyprus managed to maintain its position as the third largest shipping fleet in Europe, the 11th largest in the world, and the largest third-party ship-management centre in Europe President Nicos Anastasiades said on Thursday.
The president was addressing the Cyprus Shipping Chamber’s Annual General Meeting which took place online.
“Rest assured that we will continue to place priority in further consolidating and improving the competitiveness of the Cyprus flag and our maritime cluster, in order to remain resilient to future crises and proactive to new challenges and trends,” he said.
During the pandemic, Anastasiades said, the deputy ministry for shipping strongly supported the industry by granting extensions concerning payments to the registry maintenance annual fee and the tonnage tax with respect to Cyprus ships, and facilitated the repatriation of shipping personnel.
The industry, he said, managed to maintain its competitiveness and preserved shipping as one of the main pillars of the economy, contributing approximately 7 per cent to the island’s GDP, “significantly enhancing our efforts for the observed recovery and growth of the country’s economy”.
Currently, the deputy ministry is formulating a long-term strategy for Cyprus shipping towards a sustainable, more adaptable sector.
“At the same time, the implementation of necessary structural reforms for the development of key economic sectors, including shipping, such as through various incentives related to green and digital economy, constitutes some of the most important priorities set in the government’s economic recovery and resilience plan,” he added.
“I wish to commend the shipping industry for its leading role in efforts to overcome this unprecedented crisis by keeping supply chains open and maritime trade moving, ensuring the timely availability of essential goods and necessary medical equipment and supplies during the pandemic,” he added.
Since the establishment of the deputy ministry, the president said a number of significant steps had been taken to improve the island’s shipping infrastructure including the re-approval of the upgraded Cyprus tonnage tax system by the European Commission for another ten years “ensuring a climate of stability and confidence in the maritime industry”.
There were also a number of green tax incentives to support the industry towards decarbonisation by rewarding operations and innovative approaches that reduce the environmental footprint. He also mentioned the digital transformation of the deputy ministry, support for Blue Growth and modern maritime education and training in Cyprus.
The Cyprus flag was also included in the ‘Qualship 21’ list of the US Coast Guard, “which further establishes the registry as one of the safest and of high standards in the world,” the president said.
“Cyprus has a number of comparative advantages that have significantly contributed to establishing our country as one of the most influential global hubs for ship owning and ship management services,” he said.
These include a strategic geographical location, a maritime infrastructure which is constantly being upgraded, a highly qualified and professional workforce, a stable business environment and a fully international and EU harmonised tax and legal system.