Cyprus President affirms government support for shipping.

President of the Republic of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, pledged his government's ongoing support for the Cyprus shipping community as "one of its top priorities" during the opening session of the Maritime Cyprus 2013 conference held in Limassol yesterday.

As a sign of its intent, a new position of Shipping Undersecretary to the President is expected to be approved "within the next couple of weeks," he said.
Cyprus is the world's 11th largest flag and the EU's third largest, the President pointed out, with 150 shipping and maritime-related companies on the island controlling a fleet of more than 2,200 ships and employing 55,000 seafarers and 4,500 shoreside staff. These companies' contribution to the Cyprus economy totals more than Euros 1bn a year or 7% of national GDP.
The country had successfully weathered its banking crisis of earlier this year, he continued, and in fact the Eurozone bailout team that visited the island has "actively encouraged" Cyprus to further expand its role a as maritime hub, he added. Cyprus therefore planned to step up international promotion of itself as a suitable base for "quality ships and reputable shipping companies."
The country's maritime ambitions will have been boosted by a piece of news delivered by fellow Maritime Cyprus speaker Fotis Karamitsos, from the EC's Directorate General for Transport. He disclosed that one week ago the EC had decided that the 2004 Guidelines for State Aid to Maritime Transport should remain in place, meaning  "all [European] tonnage tax schemes - including that of Cyprus - are maintained."
The main obstacle to greater expansion of Cyprus as a maritime centre remains the Turkish ban on Cyprus ships, a matter the President said he would be appealing to IMO secretary-general Kojo Sekimizu, a fellow speaker at the conference session,  to use his influence  to try and resolve.
The morning's biggest ripple of spontaneous applause greeted the assurance by Karamitsos that the Protocol of Transport - one of the pre-conditions of Turkey joining the EU - "is not going to open" while the ban remains in place, as Turkey needed to see "the importance of regularising relations with the EU."

By Bob Jaquesfrom  Cyprus.



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