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Yf. Shipping in “K”: Our goal is to penetrate Asian markets as well

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Hatjimanoli Marina: Cyprus is a modern shipping hub. Increased presence of shipping companies

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<p> “We are proud that our efforts have laid solid foundations for a bright future for Cypriot shipping.” </p>
<p>He took over the Ministry of Shipping at a turbulent time when the shipping industry is facing many challenges such as wars and protecting the supply chain from terrorist attacks on merchant ships. In an interview with “K”, Marina Hatzimanoli emphasizes that the mark she wants to leave is the service of the citizens and the strengthening and armoring of shipping. It refers to the attempt of Cypriot shipping to penetrate Asian and Middle Eastern markets, underlines the incentives that exist for the growth of shipping companies in Cyprus and how despite the challenges, Cypriot shipping remains resilient.</p>
<p><strong>– Global shipping is affected by the upheavals of wars and terrorist attacks. What has the Cypriot industry done to deal with these phenomena?</strong></p>
<p>– The challenges facing shipping over time are complex, but also unpredictable. The green and digital transformation, the war in Ukraine, the conflict in the Middle East but also cyber security and the lack of qualified personnel are just some of today's challenges. Global challenges such as those experienced by shipping require collective approaches and international solutions. In this direction, we work with all stakeholders with the ultimate goal of finding sustainable and realistic solutions. Cypriot shipping could not remain unaffected by all these developments, however I believe that it remains resilient. Strengthening the Cypriot registry has been made a priority from the outset, as a strong ship registry adds many advantages to Cypriot shipping and without a doubt makes it resilient. Finally, I would like to underline that we are in constant communication and cooperation with the shipping industry, so that we integrate into our policies, the positions, concerns and know-how of the sector.</p>
<h3 class=Incentives and advantages

-In the last year you talked about a significant increase in shipping companies in Cyprus. Why do you think this happened and how is it interpreted for the Cypriot economy?

-Cyprus is one of the few shipping centers worldwide, which combines an international registry of recognized prestige and quality, as well as a shipping complex with a wide range of shipping and similar services, ship management, fuel supply, technology, shipping agents and many other related services . The above advantages of the Cypriot shipping complex combined with the highly successful and competitive tax system for shipping, the Tonnage Tax System (TTS), approved by the European Commission since 2010, are a pole of attraction for Cypriot and foreign ship owners, charterers and ship managers.

Additionally, the ministry offers a large number of other incentives that contribute to attracting investment in shipping, such as the specialized knowledge and experience of human resources, high safety standards, efficiency and flexibility, 24/7 service as well as the digitization of all services offered to ensure a fast, efficient and seamless service.

Our main priority is the provision of quality services, creating an efficient and flexible framework with continuous upgrading and simplification of procedures. In this context, the one-stop-shipping-centre has been operational since last November, the purpose of which is the gradual expansion of its services, so that all transactions with government departments and services, related with shipping, to be handled by the Ministry of Shipping.

At the same time, we constantly seek to develop targeted actions to promote and promote the Cypriot registry and its comparative advantages. It is no coincidence that in the last 12 months there has been an increase of 14% in the companies included in the tonnage tax system, reaching 420. It is the result of hard work and targeted actions to face the challenges and adapt to the new data imposed by international developments such as geopolitical conditions, the green transition and digital transformation.

We are proud that our efforts have laid a solid foundation for a bright future for Cypriot shipping.

– The Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently traveled to Tokyo together with industry players for the SeaJapan exhibition. What actions are you taking to strengthen the presence of Cyprus in the Japanese shipping market?

–Japan is an important and powerful country in the shipping sector, with a large number of ship-owning companies, shipping agencies, modern shipyards, and technological and innovative development in all areas of the shipping sector. It is without a doubt a market with great prospects, and our goal is to strengthen the presence of Cyprus through coordinated and targeted actions to promote the Cypriot registry and the advantages of Cypriot shipping in general.

The participation of the Ministry of Shipping in the business forum organized in Japan, as well as our presence at the international maritime exhibition SEA JAPAN 2024 in Tokyo, are part of the strategic promotion plan of the Ministry of Shipping. These actions were carried out following my visit to Japan in January 2024, during which I met with shipowners, executives of shipping companies, shipping agencies, trading houses and shipyards.

Penetrating the Japanese market requires continuous efforts and constant contact with shipping companies and agencies in order to create a favorable environment for cooperation and a climate of mutual trust. We are working towards this direction, as I have mentioned with a specific action plan which includes the most effective representation and presence of Cyprus in Japan, not necessarily with the creation of a shipping office in Tokyo. In any case, this issue is part of the wider framework of staffing shipping offices abroad.

-Is there a possibility of attracting shipowners from the Arab world?

– We examine all markets very carefully, constantly evaluate prospects and accordingly act with a specific plan. We have started efforts with Japan, moves are also being made in other markets such as China, and in general the goal is to penetrate new markets.

The market in the Middle East is certainly of interest to us, as are all countries with a large ship-owning community. Each market has its own characteristics and particularities and methodicality and patience are required for each promotion and promotion of the Cypriot register to be effective. In this case, we are working to create the right conditions that allow the most effective and efficient approach of companies operating, mainly in the field of liquefied gas transportation.

Marine connection

–This year is the third year of operation of the Cyprus-Greece sea passenger connection. Will the contract be renewed for another three years? If the government subsidy is stopped will the line become viable?

– The Cypriot government and the Ministry of Shipping attaches great importance to the operation of the maritime passenger connection between Cyprus and Greece, which became a reality two years ago. The Cyprus-Greece maritime connection, being a Service of General Economic Interest (SGI), is subsidized by the Republic of Cyprus for the sole purpose of transporting passengers and their accompanying vehicles, serving the needs of Cypriots, Greeks and European citizens, who for various reasons cannot choose to travel by air.

From the numbers of passengers who traveled in the first two years, it can be concluded that the sea passenger connection has achieved its purpose, having been embraced by the passenger public with tremendous success, exceeding all expectations. We can say that a new segment of the tourist market has been created for travelers who wish to travel to and from Cyprus and the rest of mainland Europe with their private cars and two-wheelers, offering an alternative mode of transport, which for more than two decades did not exist .

According to the terms of the contract, the subsidized service has a duration of three years with the possibility of extension for up to three more years based on certain criteria. The Ministry of Shipping, in the coming weeks, will convene an internal meeting in order to decide the next steps regarding the extension of the current contract.

The viability of the passenger connection between Cyprus and Greece after the end of the subsidy is a matter that is certainly problematic, taking into account both the specificity of the line and the constantly changing conditions. The message I want to send to the passenger public is that the Cypriot government and the Ministry of Shipping will stand by and support any effort and initiative so that citizens continue to have this option.

Strengthening and Armoring of Shipping

–What mark do you want to leave as deputy minister on the deputy ministry?

– I believe that the work of every political leader in a ministry should primarily be to defend the interests of the Republic of Cyprus, to serve the citizens, and most clearly to produce useful work that will leave a legacy for the future. Therefore, bearing in mind the above, my goal, for as long as I am Deputy Minister of Shipping, is to create the appropriate framework and solid bases, which will allow the essential strengthening and armoring of Cypriot shipping.

This plan is based on three pillars. The human resources, the position and presence of Cyprus in the international maritime map and the cooperation with the maritime community. The contribution of human resources is without a doubt extremely important and our priority is to strengthen the Deputy Ministry with suitably qualified ship inspectors and merchant shipping officers, but also to make full use of the know-how and expertise of the existing staff. The consolidation of Cyprus as an important maritime state, with a strong voice in the decision-making centers is of the utmost importance, in order to be able to formulate policies which contribute, among other things, to the sustainable development of Cypriot shipping. Finally, cooperation with the shipping industry is a necessary component in a sector with particularities and many stakeholders.

National strategy and development of maritime culture

–In October 2021, the then PtD announced the Long-term National Strategy for Cypriot Shipping – “SEA Change 2030” divided into the pillars of sustainability, extroversion and adaptability. Which of the actions have been implemented and how many remain?

– The long-term strategy for Cypriot shipping is a process of implementing actions, which is reviewed, improved and updated taking into account both current developments and the need to enrich and integrate with new actions and initiatives.

Important actions that have been implemented are the provision of a one-stopshipping-centre, the creation of a Limited Liability Shipping Company (LLC), while several others related to digitization are expected to be implemented soon with the completion of the project. Several actions are ongoing and have been significantly strengthened, such as the strengthening of bilateral relations with other states, by holding several bilateral meetings with both EU member states. but also third countries. We are particularly working to establish effective cooperation with the shipping industry, recently establishing two advisory committees through which advice and recommendations will be provided to the respective Deputy Minister of Shipping, while cooperation with the shipping community has been significantly strengthened through continuous meetings and consultations with both organized groups and and with shipping companies. Also, the green tax incentives have recently been updated by decision of the Council of Ministers, so that they correspond to the current conditions.

– We see that in recent years efforts are being made by many involved parties to cultivate maritime and maritime culture to young people. Tell us about the actions of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in this direction.

– Attracting our young people to shipping is our priority and duty as the Deputy Ministry of Shipping and in this direction in recent years targeted and coordinated efforts have been made to inform the new generation about the options for a successful professional career in a sector where the unemployment rate, at least for naval school graduates, it is zero. It is generally accepted that maritime professions are not among the first choices of our young people, even though there is a huge need for employment in this sector.

This year the efforts are strengthened with new actions that have been agreed with the Ministry of Education, which mainly aim to inform and cultivate maritime culture. In particular, for the first time, an educational day “Get to know the world of shipping” was successfully held, in which 100 students of the 1st and 2nd high schools and technical schools from the Limassol and Paphos districts participated, which will be repeated in the other districts. In the context of the conference, we highlight the advantages as well as the special characteristics of the shipping sector and we want to communicate with our young people the strategic advantage of our shipping as a professional branch, the prospects and quality characteristics of the maritime and shipping profession, so that they choose consciously a safe and promising working environment. Children are also given the opportunity to use bridge and engine simulators so that they can experience the experience of working on ships and at sea.

In addition, new actions have been launched such as the organization of a Trade Fair, which will will be held within the framework of the established festival “THALASSA 2024”, and which will be visited by all the schools of Cyprus in an organized manner. However, in order to reach the desired levels, a systematic and continuous effort is needed from various involved bodies of the State, parents and teachers, so that first of all the maritime culture is cultivated in our country, to achieve the revival of our maritime tradition, the familiarity with the sea element, and in general to bring our young people together with the sea.

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Source: www.kathimerini.com.cy

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