Cyprus Shipping – An assessment of 2023, looking ahead to 2024

ADDED 2023-12-30

(Source: InBusinessNews 29/12/2023)


In recent weeks, due to the attacks on merchant ships in the Red Sea, Shipping has again returned to the forefront of the international and local Media, vividly reminding us of the fact that it is the main "artery" of World Trade, transporting 90% of goods on a worldwide level and by extension, that it should receive the required political attention and practical support for its orderly and smooth operation, since it inevitably affects the International Economy.

As it completes the outgoing 2023 and looks forward to the upcoming 2024, the Cyprus Shipping Industry is steadily maintaining its reliable services to the business world and to the GDP of Cyprus at 7%, with tangible prospects for an even more dynamic contribution, despite the many challenges it faces, while it is in a continuous process of adaptation, in view of environmental regulatory and global geopolitical developments.

In particular, during 2023, despite the fact that the domestic Shipping Industry has maintained its competitiveness, the ongoing wars in Ukraine and more recently, in the Middle East, have caused turbulence at the international level, inevitably affecting the Shipping sector as well.

Despite this, the Cyprus Shipping Chamber continued to play an important role in the ongoing maintenance of our modern and dynamic Shipping Industry, which can and does successfully handle international challenges and competition. As a tireless partner and specialist "advisor" of the State, in matters related to Shipping, it participated actively and productively in the formulation of shipping policy where it was requested of it, ensuring at the same time the legitimate interests of its member Companies and the competitiveness of Cyprus Shipping more broadly, in Cyprus and internationally.

The Cypriot Shipping Industry therefore continued to be an important sector of economic activity in Cyprus, continuously and reliably supplying the Cypriot Economy, many other local Industries and the wider Society, as it transports 98% of all raw materials, essential goods and consumer goods in our country.

Perhaps the most important fact is that the Shipping sector maintains its excellent performance internationally, thus upgrading Cyprus as a country and a competitive business center as it operates successfully worldwide, having an excellent reputation, with the Cypriot flag being considered a prestigious and reliable flag and Cyprus an international, modern and competitive shipping center that offers numerous advantages and benefits to its users, both in terms of quality and services, as well as financial benefits.

A practical reflection of the reliable and very positive image enjoyed, for decades, by the domestic Shipping Industry internationally, was the very successful term in the Presidency of the European Community Shipowners' Associations (ECSA) and in the Presidency of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) by the Cypriot shipowners, Philippos Philis and Themis Papadopoulos respectively, during the last very bad years for Shipping.

The Shipping Industry also continued to treat its Green and Digital Transformation as current challenges and as a priority for 2023, along with the various geopolitical developments. The Shipping Industry, although it has made significant progress in preparing for its harmonisation with international and European environmental regulations, has serious concerns regarding their realistic application. The further reduction of the relatively small environmental footprint of Shipping entails huge investment decisions, shipping financing and increased operational costs in general. For its smooth transition, it is important that any measures taken are sustainable and have global application, thus reducing any adverse effects and unfair competition. It is also vital to find safe and suitable alternative fuels and technologies, which are not yet available in sufficient quantities and locations worldwide.

The Technology and Digital Transformation sector is expected to give impetus to the Green Transition, which is also a top priority for shipping companies. It is clear that the implementation of new technologies/digitalisation will bring about substantial further progress to shipping and business activities, as well as being necessary for the fast and sustainable green transition of the Shipping Industry and its decarbonisation.

At the state level, one of the main goals of 2023 was the efforts towards the immediate implementation of the specialised One-Stop-Shipping-Centre at the Deputy Ministry of Shipping, which will further upgrade the services provided to the Cyprus Maritime Industry, to the extent that they meet the ever-changing operational needs of the 11th worldwide and 3rd largest merchant fleet in the European Union. Within this context, it is also expected that the full digitisation/automation of the services of the Deputy Ministry of Shipping will be implemented sometime in 2024.

Also, the procedures for the creation of the "Limited Liability Shipping Company" (N.E.P.E.) legislation have progressed, which will improve the competitiveness of the Cypriot Flag in International Shipping, as it will simplify the procedures and the operating regime of the Cypriot Shipping companies, and owners of Cypriot ships.

The Cyprus Chamber of Shipping firmly believes that the Shipping Industry in Cyprus clearly remains one of the strongest sectors of the Cyprus Economy and a serious economic pillar that enhances the prestige of Cyprus as a country.

With the recent re-election of Cyprus in Category "C" at the Council of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for another term and in view of the new European committee in the European Union, which will be established in the autumn of next year, it becomes imperative as the Cypriot Government is intensifying the recent contacts it made in relation to the administrative upgrade of the Maritime Administration in the structure of the new European committee, so as to adequately reflect the multidimensional political-economic importance that the Maritime Industry provides the European Union, both in matters of trade, but also energy and political security.

At the same time, and equally important, is the opportunity of the establishment of the new European committee, so that the Cypriot Government can vigorously claim an important portfolio through which, firstly, it will be able to contribute to productively and with expertise to the complex work of the European Union, and thus, through this technocratic offer, to rightfully receive the greatest possible political-economic benefits for our country.

"Setting course" for 2024, a necessary condition for the further development of the Cyprus Shipping Industry, is the continuous and practical participation of the Chamber of Shipping, with the accumulated and diverse specialised know-how of its more than 200 shipping and shipping-related member companies, with the 80,000 thousand "experts" employed at sea and on land, in the decision-making of maritime policy by government agencies to maintain its existing successes and implement new improvement measures in order to ensure a fairly promising future with prospects of a stable, transparent and positive development for Cypriot Shipping.

2024 also marks 35 years since the establishment of the Chamber of Shipping in 1989 and is an important milestone in its long history and multifaceted contribution to Cypriot Shipping, the Economy and society in general. Therefore, during the new year, the Chamber will hold various professional, social and philanthropic events highlighting both the recognition received by Cypriot Shipping at local and international level, but also the significant contribution of the Cypriot Shipping Industry to the Cypriot Economy and Society, which stands united and loyal to Cyprus and the Cypriot flag, as it has done for decades now, " Navigating Cyprus, internationally "!

Optimistically looking forward to 2024, we remember the ancient, but still so timely, quote of Themistocles to the Athenians, “Μέγα το της θαλάσσης, Κράτος” which in its own concise way points out that the sovereignty then, and today, of a country at sea, translates as, "We have land and homeland when we have ships at the sea!"

Thomas A. Kazakos, Director General, Cyprus Shipping Chamber