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21-05-2024 14:08

Address by the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr Nikos Christodoulides, at the 35th Annual General Meeting 2024 of the Cyprus Shipping Chamber

It is a great pleasure to address the 35th Annual General Meeting of the Cyprus Shipping Chamber. 

Over the years, the Chamber has proven to be an invaluable partner of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus. Your professionalism, dedication, and expertise have been instrumental in steering our collective efforts towards the continuous advancement of the Cyprus shipping sector. Together, we have overcome challenges, seized opportunities and we have achieved remarkable milestones. Together, we have elevated Cyprus to the forefront of the global maritime landscape. 

The shipping sector represents 7% of Cyprus’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and has a substantial contribution to the development of our economy. Equally important is its role to the social and political development of our country.

My presence, along with three Ministers, here today, demonstrates once again the unwavering commitment of my government to support the shipping sector. I would like to assure you that we will continue to work towards the sustainable growth of Cyprus’ shipping, safeguarding at the same time the competitiveness of European shipping. 

Shipping, being a global industry, operates in a complex and unique framework. It is vulnerable to the volatile geopolitical, climate, and political and economic developments, facing numerous and unpredictable challenges. The green and digital transition, the war in Ukraine following the Russian invasion, the war in Gaza and the global shortage of ship officers are only few of the current challenges. These challenges can be tackled only by a collective approach that will facilitate international solutions.

As a small island country with a strong maritime history, we have always relied on policies based on principles and values. In this context, cooperation between the public and private sector is of paramount importance. Your contribution is without doubt invaluable and I am confident that through our strong collaboration we will be able to develop policies and undertake actions that will successfully address existing challenges. 

Gradually and over the years, Cyprus has evolved into a full-fledged shipping centre, combining a prestigious sovereign registry of ships with high standards of safety, and a domestic shipping industry, renowned for its excellent quality services. 

Last year, we celebrated 60 years since the establishment of the “Registry of Cyprus Ships” and during this time, we have managed to maintain a robust, high-quality ship registry, which ranks in 3rd place in Europe and 11th worldwide. The straightforward taxation system, the high level of ship safety, the full protection for financiers and mortgage lenders, the specialised knowledge and experience of human resources, the 24/7 service, as well as the zero registration fees constitute a competitive and attractive framework of services and advantages provided by the Cyprus Ship Registry. 

I should also note that during the past year, the Shipping Deputy Ministry of Shipping, implementing a priority that has been set when this Government took over, has spearheaded numerous strategic initiatives and innovative actions.  

These initiatives aim to upgrade and strengthen the services provided by the Shipping Deputy Ministry and we are very pleased with the positive and very promising results. Allow me to refer to some very important achievements:  

  • An increase of 5.5% during the last 6 months in the fleet of Cyprus flagged seagoing vessels.
  • An increase of 14% to the number of companies registered in the Cyprus Tonnage Tax System, reaching a total of 420.
  • The establishment of the Advisory Committee on Competitiveness and Quality Enhancement of the Cyprus Flag and the Advisory Committee on Competitivenes of the Cyprus Maritime Cluster. Their aim: to further enhance the competitiveness of the Cyprus flag and Cyprus shipping.
  • The commencement of operations of the One Stop Shipping Centre in November. The Centre aims to provide quality service to all shipping companies as well as companies whose activities are related to shipping and are based in Cyprus.
  • The reelection of Cyprus in the Council of the International Maritime Organization (IMO); an additional demonstration of Cyprus’ strong voice in shipping in international fora.
  • The allotment of government land for the construction of the new premises of the Shipping Deputy Ministry.
  • The approval by the Council of Ministers of a revised set of green incentives to reward ships that demonstrate effective greenhouse gas emission reductions. From January 2024, the annual tonnage tax for ships registered in the Register of Cyprus Ships will be reduced by up to 30% for each ship that demonstrates effective greenhouse gas emissions reduction measures, ensuring that shipowners are rewarded for their efforts for decarbonisation of the shipping sector.
  • The upgrading and targeted evolution of the “Maritime Cyprus 2023” conference, organised last October, resulted in a record high attendance, with over 1000 participants from 35 countries, establishing it as one of the best and most high-quality maritime conferences worldwide. 

Dear friends, 

I am very pleased to see that in today’s world, the participation of women in the maritime industry is increasing. The Government attaches great importance and is an active supporter of gender equality, diversity and inclusion. We take pride in promoting women empowerment. We take pride in providing equal opportunities to all, irrespective of their gender. Through our actions, we are breaking the stereotypes of the “male dominated” maritime sector. 

In Cyprus, you can find women in all ranks and in all positions and roles within the maritime sector, both ashore and onboard. Employees, managers, CEOs, government officials, crew, officers, captains and of course ministers. 

Amongst the many actions we are engaging for promoting gender equality and women empowerment is the establishment of the “Gender Equality Award in Cyprus Shipping”. The award is bestowed annually to persons, irrespective of their gender, who have made significant contributions to advancing gender equality and women empowerment in the maritime sector. 

The first award of this kind was given yesterday to Mrs Despina Theodosiou, who was also the recipient of the first “IMO Gender Equality award” as the candidate of Cyprus. Congratulations, Despina, very well deserved. 

I do recognise that more can be done in advancing our maritime industry. I also recognise that in order to be more effective, more productive, an even closer cooperation between the Government and the industry is required. In this context, further objectives have been set, and certain actions and initiatives are in progress in order to further promote the efficiency of the Shipping Deputy Ministry. In this regard, just to mention one example, the full digitalisation of the services provided by the Shipping Deputy Ministry is anticipated to be completed at the end of this year.

I wish to reaffirm the firm commitment of this Government to supporting the shipping industry and addressing the pressing issues facing our maritime community. We will continue to work closely with industry stakeholders, regulatory bodies, and international and EU partners to develop innovative solutions, foster collaboration, and ensure the long-term sustainability and competitiveness of the Cyprus shipping sector. 

In closing, I wish to extend my sincere gratitude to the Cyprus Shipping Chamber, its esteemed Board of Directors, and its esteemed members for their unwavering dedication and invaluable contribution to the economy, to the shipping community, as well as the society of Cyprus. Together, we have achieved remarkable success and together, we will overcome the challenges that lie ahead, emerging stronger, more resilient, and more united than ever before. Let us continue to chart a course towards a brighter, more prosperous future for Cyprus and the global and European shipping industry.