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  • Writer's pictureNikos Doukas

Marina Hadjimanolis: Cyprus is becoming One Stop-Shipping Centre


Shipping Deputy Minister to the President of the Republic of Cyprus
Shipping Deputy Minister to the President of the Republic of Cyprus

The history of shipping and maritime tradition of Cyprus traces back to more than three and a half thousand years. The strategic geographical location of the island of Cyprus, at the crossroads of three continents, played a critical role in the development and establishment of Cyprus as an important shipping centre. After its independence, recognizing the political, economic and social importance of shipping, Cyprus has managed to develop a strong shipping sector, and become a modern maritime state.


Today, Cyprus is a large and dynamic maritime centre, combining both a sovereign flag and a resident shipping industry, which is renowned for its high-quality services and standards of safety.


The establishment in March 2018 of the Shipping Deputy Ministry, after unanimous approval by all members of parliament, initiated a new era for shipping in Cyprus demonstrating the political support and commitment of Cyprus to the shipping sector. The creation of an autonomous Shipping Deputy Ministry reporting directly to the President of the Republic, enabled the increasement of the functionality, effectiveness and flexibility of the public shipping administration. Shipping and ship management activities contributes about 7% to the economy in terms of gross domestic product (GDP), and it employs about 9000 people in Cyprus onshore and about 55,000 seafarers.


The President of the Republic of Cyprus Mr. Nicos Christodoulides and the Government, recognizing the crucial role of shipping for the country in all aspects, economically, politically and socially, remain firmly committed to the further development and strengthening of the shipping sector and the safeguarding of the competitiveness of European shipping, while ensuring a level playing field by adopting and implementing uniform international regulations for global shipping. I would like to assure the shipping community, that we will continue to work towards a sustainable growth of the sector, adopting policies and taking initiatives and actions which will enable the development of the appropriate conditions.


Undoubtedly, shipping is a business sector for which we are proud of, representing an invaluable asset for Cyprus with significant political and economic benefits. The success story of Cyprus shipping was based on the implementation of measures and policies throughout the years, such as the continuous update of maritime legislation with the adoption of international and maritime conventions and the harmonization with the European acquis, the approval of an attractive tonnage tax system, and the quality services provided to the industry.


However, I firmly believe that the most important quality that we have managed for so many years to achieve and offer as a country, is the framework providing stability for doing business in Cyprus, both economically and politically, an element which is of paramount importance for any industry in general and particularly for the shipping sector. Another very important aspect of the successful establishment of Cyprus as a maritime centre of excellence and quality, which is worth mentioning, is the constructive and productive cooperation between the public and private sector. This cooperation has proven very helpful and valuable also for the public administration, which has managed promptly and very smoothly to be adapted to the way shipping operates as well as its needs and particularities. On this occasion, I would like, on behalf of the state, to express my gratitude and appreciation to all those who over the years have contributed to the development of Cyprus shipping.


All the above constitute the core of our policy and are among the main objectives of this Government. As a public administration we should adapt and offer customized quality services, taking into account the global nature and the particularities of the shipping sector. I firmly believe that the framework of services we are providing are in the right direction, but of course we know that shipping is a dynamic sector and vulnerable to the volatile geopolitical climate and economic forces. Recent challenges such as the covid pandemic and Russia-Ukraine war, but also the actions taken for decarbonization and digitalization of the sector, combined with their transition costs, has put shipping under extreme pressure during the last few years. For this reason, we have adopted a long-term national strategy for Cyprus shipping, aiming to protect, to the extent possible, the sector from future challenges and safeguard its sustainable growth.


Having said this, recognizing that shipping is an international industry and being a member of the European Union and the International Maritime Organization, Cyprus attributes high importance to international cooperation, which we consider as a prerequisite for developing, maintaining and consolidating a comprehensive regulatory framework for shipping. To this end, we fully support the central role of the IMO in facilitating international collaboration.


Since becoming a Member of the IMO in 1973, Cyprus has played a positive and constructive role in the Organization’s endeavours to achieve the objectives of maritime safety and environmental protection and to improve the living and working conditions of our seafarers.


Cyprus, being a small island nation, has always relied on policies based on principles and values governing international law, ensuring at the same time a level playing field. With regards to the work of the IMO, the contribution of Cyprus has been extensive and consistent, and has relied on the country’s long standing policy of bridging the gap between developed and developing States, Flag, Port and Coastal States, as well as achieving financial stability and sustainability for IMO and its affiliated institutions.


Cyprus has been a member of the IMO Council since 1987, reflecting its effective and essential role, not only within the IMO, but also in the international shipping community. We will continue to have a strong voice in the IMO, actively and responsibly participating in the deliberations for regulating the international shipping. In this context Cyprus is seeking re-election in Category C of IMO Council, in the elections scheduled to take place in December this year.


Today Cyprus is a modern, efficient and integrated shipping cluster ranked amongst the leading in the world. As a third-party ship management centre it is the largest in Europe and amongst the top three worldwide. More than 20% of the world’s third party management fleet is managed by companies based in Cyprus. In particular more than 200 companies are based in Limassol, the heart of the Cyprus maritime cluster, offering shipping and shipping-related services ranging from ship ownership and ship management to shipping insurance, shipping finance, brokerage, bunkering, ballast water system production, marine training, maritime technology in satellite and radio systems and many more.

This year marks 60 years since the establishment of the Registry of Cyprus Ships, which after the Turkish invasion in 1974 was reorganized in Limassol, which is now designated as the port of registry for ships under the Cyprus flag. It is very important to be mentioned, that despite the difficulties and challenges we have faced, mainly due to the Turkish invasion, but also later due to the economic crisis and more recently the pandemic crisis and the sanctions imposed after the Russian invasion in Ukraine, we have managed to maintain a strong ship registry of excellence and quality which ranks in 3rd place in Europe and 11th worldwide.

This means that Cyprus has established itself as one of the highest quality and most competitive flags in the world, further strengthening Cyprus’s position on the global maritime map.

The stable taxation system, the high level of ship safety, the full protection for financiers and mortgage lenders, the specialized knowledge and experience of human resources, the 24/7 service, the zero registration fees and the exemption from income tax of seafarers serving on ships flying the Cyprus flag, constitute a competitive and attractive framework of services and advantages providing by the Cyprus ship registry.


The continuous upgrading and strengthening of the framework of the services provided is undoubtedly one of the main priorities we have set. In this context, specific actions and initiatives have been undertaken, such as the development of a “One-Stop-Shipping Centre” through the implementation of the legislative framework of the Shipping Limited Liability Company and the digitalization of all services of the Shipping Deputy Ministry. The aim is to simplify procedures and further improve the quality of the services offered, in order to create a more friendly business environment for the shipping industry, which, as we all know, operates in a specific context with particular specificities.


In addition to the above actions and initiatives, I would like to underline that we have established a continuous and direct contact and cooperation with the shipping community, recognizing the importance and the value of promoting a continuous, interactive and systematic collaboration with the industry.


Closing, I wish to express my confidence in accomplishing a sustainable growth of Cyprus shipping, achieving the objective of consolidating Cyprus’s position as an advanced maritime cluster encompassing the full range of shipping and shipping-related services and a top quality, competitive, sovereign Registry, through policies relying on the values of reliability, excellence of service and responsiveness, transparency and social and environmental responsibility.

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