Despite the Covid pandemic, the Cyprus shipping industry has shown “tremendous resilience and supported immensely the Cypriot economy in 2020,” President of the Republic Nicos Anastasiades said on Thursday.
“Despite the financial difficulties due to the pandemic and the fact that the Cyprus shipping sector operates in a continuously evolving and highly competitive global environment, we are proud that our country managed to maintain its position as the 3rd largest shipping fleet in Europe and the 11th largest in the world, while representing the largest third-party ship-management Centre in Europe,” he said addressing the virtual Annual General Meeting of the Cyprus Shipping Chamber.
As the President noted in a televised address, “our country’s maritime sector managed to maintain its competitiveness and has preserved shipping as one of the main pillars of our economy, with a contribution of approximately 7% to Cyprus’ GDP, significantly enhancing our efforts for the observed recovery and growth of the country’s economy.”
He also assured that “we will continue to place priority in further consolidating and improving the competitiveness of the Cyprus flag and our maritime cluster, in order to remain resilient to future crises and proactive to new challenges and trends.”
Addressing the AGM, Vassilis Demetriades, Deputy Minister for Shipping, said the Ministry is working towards increasing further their efficiency through the redesign of the Deputy Ministry’s organisational structure to increase productivity speed up the procedures to fill all vacant positions and through digitising all its services creating the conditions for a One Stop Shop.
“For this project the government secured funds of around 2.5 million euros from the EU recovery and resilient plan,” he said.
He also referred to the Ministry’s strategic vision which encompasses three elements, namely sustainability, extroversion and adaptability.
Turning to sustainability, the Deputy Minister noted that “sustainability because is not only about greening, is all about striking the right balance between environmental sustainability and maintaining our competitiveness and this is what we will try to do.”
Demetriades reiterated the Deputy Ministry’s “willingness and determination to work together for a more resilient more competitive more extrovert Cyprus shipping.”
On his part the outgoing CSC President, Philippos Philis said shipping was affected to a significant degree by the Covid pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns, restrictions and travel bans, but he noted that as the vaccination programme progresses and the infections rate decline “we regain our confidence that there is a line of sight towards the end of this crisis.”
However, he noted that “the day after should find us ready to address the economic impact inflicted upon our businesses and draft a recovery strategy to maintain Cyprus as a leading maritime centre and at the same time to create an even more sustainable economy for our country.”
“The future is a challenging one”, he said, “and without a doubt there is a clear need to reshape the way shipping operates in view of these challenges and lessons learned during the covid pandemic. It is therefore imperative to apply carefully planned strategies to be able to navigate through rough seas into calm waters.”
Philis urged the government “to considers the Chamber’s idea to establish a financial institution for the shipping and transport sector, which shall allocate funds in line with the Green Deal and/or provide competitive ship finance to resident shipping companies.”