On the occasion of the completion of 5 years since the creation of the Shipping Deputy Ministry, the Shipping Deputy Minister Vassilis Demetriades, in the context of a press conference and event that followed in the presence of the entire maritime industry of Cyprus, presented the work achieved in the Deputy Ministry, especially during the last 2.5 years at the helm of the Deputy Ministry.
The presentation of the Deputy Minister of Shipping included 15 sections which reflect the following main achievements and actions that have been implemented and which contribute to the further development of Cyprus Shipping:
1. Formation of the National Strategy “SEA Change 2030” which includes 35 sustainable actions with a planning and implementation schedule with the aim of making our shipping resistant to crises and competitive, with Cyprus a protagonist in the international shipping scene. 23 of the 35 actions have already been implemented. The Strategy also introduces a new philosophy to the way Cyprus approaches shipping.
2. Creation of a one-stop-shipping-shop framework with the adoption of the legislative framework of the Limited Liability Shipping Company and the digitalisation of all the Services of the Deputy Ministry, which is in progress. By the beginning of 2024 all the services of the Deputy Ministry will be provided digitally in a paperless environment. Within the next few days, the application for mobile phones (MobileApp) of the Deputy Ministry “CYSh1P” will be available with the digital services being accessible to all users from their mobile phone.
3. A significant increase in companies that fall under the Special Tax System governing Cyprus Shipping. Specifically, in the last 10 years, the number of shipping companies has tripled, from 97 companies in 2012 to 302 companies in 2022, with the largest increase observed in the last 5 years with the creation of the Deputy Ministry. Significant increase is also recorded in the revenues of the Deputy Ministry. From 11.57 million euros recorded in 2017, revenues in 2022 amounted to 15.6 million euros. With regard to the Cyprus-flagged fleet, and despite the implementation of EU sanctions against Russia which resulted in deletions amounting to 2m of gross tonnage, the Cyprus registry proved resilient, resulting in a significant number of entries, with gross tonnage of 23.8m .
4. Creating conditions of stability and reliability for shipping companies operating or planning to operate in Cyprus and/or registering ships in the Cyprus registry with the re-approval of the Fiscal regime governing Cyprus Shipping by the European Commission, as well as providing further attractive incentives to strengthen the competitiveness of Cyprus Shipping. Creating prospects for further development of the national maritime complex by creating a framework for Cyprus to become a Center for Arbitration and Mediation of maritime disputes!
5. The Cyprus-Greece Sea Passenger Connection became a reality after 21 years, as a result of a successful renegotiation of the terms of the approval secured by the European Commission for a state subsidy.
6. Effective and immediate response to crises. In the two years of the pandemic, Cyprus took the lead by facilitating crew changes and the repatriation of more than 65,000 seafarers, while a national vaccination coverage program for 40,000 seafarers was adopted and successfully implemented. Cyprus received praise from the global shipping industry for supporting seafarers, while turning the crisis into an opportunity, with world-class cruise ships including Cyprus in their itineraries with huge benefits for the country’s economy.
7. Constructive negotiation of the ongoing sanctions packages proposed by the European Commission that have affected shipping. Through the correct assessment of the effects of the sanctions and the wealth of expertise of the officials of the Deputy Ministry, the need to impose sanctions was communicated with the aim of being effectively applicable and maintaining as much as possible equal competition. At the initiative of Cyprus, the European Commission committed itself to the need to take supportive measures for European Shipping, which it will present within the next few weeks, with Cyprus submitting specific proposals for measures. In addition the Deputy Ministry provided guidance and prompt provision of recommendations and clarifications to the Shipping Industry on how to implement the sanctions while facilitating affected seafarers to open bank accounts to access their wages.
8. Substantial contribution to the green transformation of shipping by providing green tax incentives and active participation in the discussions for the formulation of a legislative framework that will substantially reduce the environmental footprint of shipping while taking into account the particularities of shipping. Taking initiatives with organising of productive meetings at a global level to analyse the possibilities of development and use of new alternative fuels, with a recent example of the live SWOT analysis.
9. A culture of research and innovation is cultivated in Shipping through a productive collaboration with the Research and Innovation Foundation (RIF) on the basis of which we created the “RISE” Program (Research Innovation Shipping Environment) through which RIF has already allocated more than 10 million euros in research and innovative projects that support the green and digital transformation of shipping. A call for submissions of interest for strategic infrastructure programs in the shipping sector in the amount of 2.5 million euros is underway.
10. Support for Coastal Shipping to offer better quality services to maritime tourism by upgrading the fleet of coastal vessels with a targeted state aid plan (de minimis) with the subsidy so far amounting to 0.6m euros.
11. Prominent presence at regional, European and international level with the re-election of Cyprus as a member of the Council of the International Maritime Organization in the last two electoral procedures, and the conclusion of Memorandums of Cooperation with important partners. An initiative was taken at the regional level to strengthen the levels of safety and protection of the marine environment in the Mediterranean, while at the proposal of Cyprus a policy for the sustainable use of the oceans by the member states of the Commonwealth will be formulated, with the intention of Cyprus to host a Ministerial Summit within 2023.
12. Development of the Blue Economy of Cyprus with the formulation of Marine Spatial Planning which will contribute decisively to maximizing the development potential of our seas in a sustainable manner. Cyprus was chosen by the European Commission to host the European Maritime Day for 2026, an event that will attract the entire blue ecosystem of Europe to visit Cyprus, an event that will highlight Cyprus’ maritime activities, creating prospects for mutually beneficial collaborations.
13. Strengthening the levels of security and protection of ships under the Cyprus flag with preventive actions and a continuous education and training program for the Ship Inspectors of the Deputy Ministry.
14. In the last two years the Deputy Ministry has invested a lot in the new generation. With innovative actions and the institutionalization of the “THALASSA” All-Day Experience, the right dimension and perspective of shipping was highlighted for the first time to schools, children, parents and more broadly in civil society with the creation of a Guidance Group of young scientists who are active in branch from various academic backgrounds highlighting the multidimensional character of shipping. Regarding the Merchant Marine Academies, the Deputy Ministry supports the students with scholarships and subsidies for training on board. Specifically, subsidies of a total value of 1.36 million euros were given to 883 cadets and scholarships of 165,000 euros to 55 Naval Academies students. A Committee for the Promotion of Maritime Studies and Professions was created consisting of the entire Maritime Industry (Shipping Deputy Ministry, Cyprus Shipping Chamber, Cyprus Shipowners Association, Cyprus Institute for the Sea and Shipping) to evaluate and make recommendations to the Academic Institutions for updating study programs so that meet the modern needs and challenges of the shipping industry.
15. Initiatives were taken to break down gender stereotypes in the shipping industry with tangible actions. Of the 16-member Steering Group, the 10 appointed members are women active in maritime and land-based occupations. Additionally we introduced the term “WOMANNING SHIPPING” as a sign of appreciation and recognition of the role of women in shipping, which we promoted to the International Maritime Organization to join the international maritime terminology.
The Shipping Deputy Ministry thanked all the organised groups that make up the maritime ecosystem of Cyprus, as well as all the Public Services that supported and continue to support the work of the Deputy Ministry and the effort made for the further development of shipping and the blue economy of Cyprus.