Cyprus Shipping is a success story that has been built over the last 40 years through targeted policies, through the passion and hard work of all those who laid a solid foundation in its first steps, through the support received from ship owners who trusted Cyprus flag on their ships and Cyprus as a basis for their activities.
March 1, 2018 was an important milestone with the opening of the newly established Shipping Deputy Ministry, an initiative of the Anastasiadis Government that received unanimous parliamentary approval, sending a clear message that shipping is a strategic priority for Cyprus.
4 years later, this decision proves to be absolutely correct. Despite the difficulties that are always presented in every new venture, despite the adverse conditions of the last two years, with the pandemic being a deterrent to the implementation of projects to promote and attract ships and shipping companies in Cyprus, our shipping has proved resilient recording successes and positive performances.
The re-approval of the tax regime governing Cyprus Shipping by the European Commission in 2019 strengthened the competitiveness of the sector by creating conditions of stability and reliability for shipping companies operating or planning to operate in Cyprus or to register ships in the Cyprus flag register.
The Cyprus Flag Register has exceeded 24.2 Mil. total capacity and the number of shipping companies registered in the Tonnage Tax System records an increase of over 60% in the last 4 years. In the same period (2018-2022) the Shipping Deputy Ministry records a 37% increase in revenues collected.
The Government responded effectively to the humanitarian crisis that erupted with the crew members of the ships due to the pandemic by displaying its social sensitivity. The Shipping Deputy Ministry took initiatives and received praise from the International Maritime Community. In particular, Cyprus facilitated the change of crew members and the repatriation of 60,000 seafarers, adopted a national vaccination program for 40,000 seafarers and proposed a global vaccination program for seafarers adopted by a Resolution of the International Labor Organisation.
In addition to numerical performance, the Shipping Deputy Ministry with tangible actions and precautionary policies laid the foundations to make the sector more resilient to crises, more competitive and sustainable, creating conditions for effective response to challenges.
A milestone in this direction was the formulation of the strategic vision for the Cyprus Shipping “SEAchange2030” which aims to make Cyprus a protagonist in the formulation of a shipping policy with a positive influence on world shipping events and an attractive shipping centre. With “SEAchange2030” a new operating model was formed at the Shipping Deputy Ministry, an interactive and systematic process that will support the implementation of the vision on the basis of the triptych Extroversion-Adaptability-Sustainability, with 35 targeted actions and a specific implementation schedule.
In relation to the green transformation, Cyprus is a pioneer in the adoption and implementation of Green Tax Incentives on ships, which through their practices reduce carbon dioxide emissions beyond international regulatory obligations, encouraging and rewarding the shipping industry to pass this difficult period until complete decarbonisation is achieved. The efforts of the Shipping Deputy Ministry to support research activities through targeted programs are directed in this direction, while at the same time it facilitates and supports tests in the use of alternative fuels (eg biofuels and hydrogen) on ships under the Cyprus flag.
The immediate and quality service of the shipping industry is one of the great advantages of the Cyprus Shipping that is expected to be further strengthened with the digital transformation of the Ministry. Through funding provided by the EU Recovery and Sustainability Fund, the project is planned and will be completed by the end of 2023. Legislative initiatives and other processes are also underway to help shape the one-stop-shop framework.
The Shipping Deputy Ministry is making significant efforts to support the coastal ecosystem by supporting coastal shipping through a State Aid Plan in an effort to provide better services to maritime tourism. The formation of a holistic legislative and administrative framework for the operation of yachts is also in the process of implementation, as well as the goal for alternative connectivity of Cyprus with mainland Europe, with the reopening of the Cyprus-Greece Maritime Passenger Connection.
The Integrated Maritime Policy of Cyprus is an equally important priority. The national Maritime Spatial Planning under development is expected to maximize the prospects for sustainable development of the blue economy.
The future of shipping and the blue economy in Cyprus is intertwined with human resources. In this direction, the Shipping Deputy Ministry turns to the new generation seeking the cultivation of maritime and maritime culture, with interactive initiatives and information campaigns on the prospects of blue and maritime studies and professions, which it supports through educational sponsorships.
The Shipping Deputy Ministry at the age of 4, laid the foundations for an even greater contribution of shipping to the Cyprus Economy. In addition, the election of Cyprus to the Council of the International Maritime Organisation gathering in the last two electoral processes (2019 and 2021) the vast majority of votes, the active and leading presence of Cyprus in international and European maritime events and the wealth of expertise available of the Shipping Deputy Ministry, are tools for the positive promotion of our Cyprus internationally.
The Shipping Deputy Ministry consists of executives who serve with great zeal and love the Cyprus Shipping. They have every reason to be proud of the performance of Cyprus, recognising that there is great room for improvement that should be used to the fullest through the national strategy and the actions that have been put in place. At the same time, the appreciation and thanks of the governement to the shipping industry, the Cyprus Shipping Chamber and the Cyprus Shipowners’ Association, are imperative and due to the timeless support and trust in the Cyprus Shipping. Together we will work to further develop our maritime complex by making every effort to raise the Cyprus flag even higher in reliability, quality and to a larger number of ships, so that it flies proudly around the world.
4 years Shipping Deputy Ministry with steady and targeted steps of development of the sector ordered to serve the purpose… “Strong Shipping – Stronger Cyprus”.
By Vassilios Demetriades, Cyprus Shipping Deputy Minister