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Cyprus Shipping Chamber expands its influential role in the national & international level

Committed to maintain the reputation of the Cyprus flag as “Quality Flag” the Cyprus Shipping Chamber has been instrumental in the establishment of the Shipping Deputy Ministry, one and a half year ago. In the interview that follows Thomas A. Kazakos, Director General of the Cyprus Shipping Chamber, explains the role of CSC as an industry association to provide guidance on upcoming rules and help Cyprus to maintain its prominent position in global shipping as well as he refers to the business and lobbying activities in Cyprus and EU bodies aiming at the lifting the Turkish Embargo.

Thomas A. Kazakos, Director General of the Cyprus Shipping Chamber

– Describe the objectives of the Maritime Cyprus 2019 conference and what is your  organisation’s involvement in this significant event.

The “Maritime Cyprus” Conference has grown into one of the world’s most significant shipping conferences and is attended by many shipping executives of the industry, including, owners, managers, and delegates from other shipping organisations. This year’s conference, is entitled “Sea Change” and aims to operate as a forum where important and current issues relating to international shipping are presented by distinguished speakers and subsequently discussed by the international shipping community, thereby helping to formulate sound and well-balanced decisions and policies on crucial shipping issues. It also provides the opportunity to the participants, to become familiar with the strong maritime tradition of Cyprus and its people. The Chamber has been instrumental in the organisation of the “Maritime Cyprus” Conference since the organisation of the first conference back in 1989, and it contributed substantially to turning the Conference into one of the world’s most significant and most attended shipping conferences, whose status now gives it a prominent position in the calendar of many shipping executives from around the world. In addition, the Chamber is participating with a Panel discussion which will take place on the Opening Day of the Conference, Monday, 7 October entitled “Are there brighter days ahead for Shipping?”. This discussion is expected to offer an expert view on the current main commercial issues affecting international shipping and in particular, the three main sectors namely, bulk carriers, tankers and containers, as well as endanger a projection as to the future of the Shipping Industry at large.

– What are the main challenges of the Cypriot Shipping Registry? How do you face the need of the abolition of the Turkish embargo and the adoption of realistic policies on crucial shipping issues within the EU?

The Cyprus flag is a high-quality flag, offering numerous advantages and benefits to its users, both in terms of quality and service as well as economic benefits. The continuous provision of incentives, competitive business and taxation environment, within the framework of EU regulations, helps Cyprus not only to maintain its prominent position in global shipping but to improve it and develop it further. The target has always been to further develop the Cyprus Register, keeping it competitive for Shipping companies. To that end, the Chamber lobbied for the establishment of the Shipping Deputy Ministry (SDM) and afterwards worked with the SDM for the implementation of the National Shipping Strategy for  the further upgrading of its services, in order to continue offering a high standard of support to its flag users and maintain the reputation of the Cyprus flag as a “Quality Flag”. Of course, the greatest challenge that Cyprus Shipping faces is the lifting of the Turkish Embargo on Cyprus Ships at a time when our region is also affected by geopolitical uncertainties. A viable and functional solution to the Cyprus Problem can dramatically drive the growth the Cyprus Shipping Industry, resulting to the further expansion of the Cyprus Registry and to an even more flourishing Shipping industry. The Chamber, follows closely the matter of the Turkish Embargo within the framework of the negotiations being headed by H.E. the President of the Republic, Mr. Nicos Anastasiades and his Negotiating Team for the solution of the Cyprus Issue, as well as the on-going discussions for the customs union agreement between Turkey and the EU. In addition, the Chamber’s lobbying action at EU level is enhanced, even more through its membership at the European Community Shipowners Associations (ECSA), with targeted campaigns in relation to the European Commission, aiming at lifting this illegal ban.

– How do you ensure the smooth compliance with the new environmental rules (sulphur cap, MRV, BWMS)?

Our role as an industry association is to inform our Members, in advance, on all current and upcoming environmental regulations and to provide all possible guidance and clarification in relation to compliance with any upcoming rules so that they are well informed and prepared. The above role is achieved through our membership in the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA), where we have an active participation on the ongoing discussions regarding new developments and regulations.  In addition, we participate at meetings of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the European Union (EU) where the Chamber functions as consultant to the Government representatives as part of the Cyprus Shipping delegation or as the representative of the Cyprus Shipping Industry. This way we gain the necessary information which we then circulate to our Members in the form of circulars, thereby providing them with advice to assist them in their smooth compliance with new rules and regulations. Furthermore, through the Chamber’s various technical committees we discuss upcoming regulations. Members provide their opinions on all matters, including environmental regulations.  During these committee meetings, Members also share experiences on implementing various environmental regulations, discuss best practices and raise issues that they may have had during the compliance process. This process greatly and tangibly assists Members in their compliance process.

– Cyprus offers a complete shipping infrastructure and a highly educated labour human force. What is the key to continue developing a sound and a strong maritime client base in the future?

The Shipping Industry continues to grow in absolute terms and the addition of a number of internationally recognised companies to our shipping cluster, is both a vote of confidence for Cyprus and added strength to the Cyprus shipping community. Cyprus offers a multitude of benefits for Cyprus based shipping companies and possible shipping investors and entrepreneurs. More than 200 shipowning, shipmanagement, chartering and shipping related companies maintain fully-fledged offices and conduct their international activities from Cyprus and this is due to a number of factors that have contributed in the establishment of Cyprus as a strategic and significant Shipping and international business centre. With the combination of a most competitive Shipping Taxation System, a fully operational Shipping Deputy Ministry and a diversified Maritime Cluster, companies are able to offer first class services to their customers worldwide from their offices in Cyprus. In addition, the recent discovery of Natural Gas in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Cyprus creates even greater prospects for Cyprus Shipping and of course, the country as a whole. Cyprus can develop into an important Energy Centre in the Mediterranean. Strategic
partnerships with careful management and well-prepared development plans can create new and vibrant Shipping and Energy projects will act as a catalyst towards new investments with great financial benefits for the Cyprus Economy. Finally, undoubtedly, there are also major prospects in the field of Maritime Education and Blue Growth, believing that a modern maritime education is the key to stabilise and grow our industry and be able to maintain its pace of progress and expansion.

– Have you invested in social responsibility activities such as Cymepa, adopt a ship etc to promote the image of shipping?

The Chamber in addition to its business/lobbying activities, has in its core values a strong and consistent Corporate Social Responsibility, believing that in order for an Industry to flourish, the support of the society is essential. Amongst other activities, the Chamber has been organising Blood Donations for the past 26 years, donating over 3000 blood units, a commendable social service that has been honoured by the Blood Coordinating Committee of the Limassol District. In addition, the Charity “Beach Volley Tournament” held by the Chamber annually with the participation of its Member-Companies, has been donating to the “One Dream – One Wish” Association which supports children suffering from cancer, the proceeds of this charitable event for over 20 Years. Another important and longstanding activity initiated by the Chamber, is the “Adopt a Ship” programme. The Chamber started in 2006 the “Adopt a Ship” Programme, in cooperation with the Cyprus Marine Environment Protection Association (CYMEPA), with the aim of highlighting the benefits of shipping whilst contributing to the next generation of youngsters. Since the beginning of the programme, and through the valuable assistance of the CYMEPA, more than 350 classes from 85 schools have participated in the programme. The Programme is part of a wider campaign by the Chamber to educate the Cypriot youth, through visits and presentations at schools, about the benefits of Shipping to the Cyprus economy and careers in the Shipping Industry.

– Have you established any kind of partnership and alliance to expand your organisation’s activities in EU?

Both at a national and international level, the Chamber as the representative of the Cyprus Shipping Industry, has become an influential body and “roving ambassador” when policy decisions concerning shipping matters are taken by the Government of Cyprus or by other internationally recognised shipping bodies and organisations. The Chamber’s longstanding and active participation both at the European Community Shipowners’ Association (ECSA) and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has created important partnerships which contributes to the further development of Cyprus, European and International Shipping. In addition, the Chamber is advocating for an upgrade of the EU Maritime Administration (currently DG MOVE), in view of the new EU Commission to be formed in November this year. Such an upgrade, will contribute enormously to the further promotion of shipping matters within Europe and further promote Europe’s global standing in an industry where we face challenges from countries and regions that do not have many of the constraints under which we operate in Europe.

Source: ELNAVI SEPT 2019