It is indeed a great honour to once again address the Maritime Cyprus Conference organized by the Shipping Deputy Ministry, in co-operation with the Cyprus Shipping Chamber and the Cyprus Union of Ship-owners.
This year marks a significant milestone: The 30th anniversary of the Maritime Conference. In this regard, I feel obliged to praise the fact that the success that the Conference enjoys throughout all these years, is a testament of the recognition the Cyprus shipping industry enjoys among the International Shipping community and the mutually beneficial partnerships we have established with global shipping stakeholders.
And taking into account the high caliber of the speakers and shipping executives of the international shipping industry that have joined this year’s Conference, I have no doubt that the Conference will, once more, be highly successful and constructive for each and every one.
We are very proud of the achievements of Cyprus’ Shipping which has been firmly established as one of the most qualitative, modern and complete international shipping centres, ranking 11th worldwide and 3rd in Europe in ship registries.
Moreover, as a third-party ship management centre, Cyprus is the largest in Europe and one of the leading ones globally.
At the same time, we have been effectively implementing the relevant internationally applicable safety, security and environmental protection standards, whilst ensuring that the national measures are continuously enhanced, thus; Providing a stable and friendly environment for shipping companies covering a large spectrum of activities and services.
Cyprus shipping has proven to be an invaluable asset for our economy and has proven catalytic particularly in recent years towards the steady recovery of our economy, acting not only as a gateway of foreign investments, but also as an export destination for ship management services.
In this regard, further consolidating and enhancing the competitiveness of our flag and maritime cluster remains one of the most important priorities of the Government.
It is for this reason that in March 2018, the Government established a Shipping Deputy Ministry in order to meet existing and future challenges arising from regional and geopolitical developments, through a well-structured and co-ordinated strategic plan.
Since the creation of the Shipping Deputy Ministry, a number of initiatives have been undertaken with the aim to tangibly improve Cyprus’ shipping administration.
and reinforcing safety and quality procedures, including entering to new agreements with Recognised Organisations.
At the same time, we have introduced an updated pricing policy which simplifies and streamlines the fees relating to the Cyprus’ Registry of Ships, whilst abolishing initial registration fees for ocean-going vessels.
And I am pleased to assess that our policies have yielded positive results, as evident by the following:
A number of further measures are also in the pipeline and are expected to be adopted in the immediate future. These include updating and reinforcing our competitive shipping taxation framework, as well as implementing a holistic strategy for Blue Growth, including a detailed Marine Spatial Planning project.
Additionally, the discovery of significant quantities of hydrocarbons, not only in Cyprus, but in the wider Eastern Mediterranean region generates new opportunities for our shipping industry to further evolve and widen its horizons by establishing synergies with the energy sector and relevant auxiliary services.
Modern maritime training constitutes an essential element in the further progress and expansion of the Shipping Industry.
To this end, these past few years 3 maritime academies have been established in Cyprus, with more than 300 students currently studying at these, supervised by the Shipping Deputy Ministry.
The Government offers many incentives to encourage blue careers, such as scholarships and grants for the on-board training of EU students at the Cyprus maritime academies.
The private sector is also extremely supported and committed to this objective, offering employment opportunities to students of the maritime academies.
In the area of innovation, Cyprus is planning to establish a research and technology centre of excellence, the Cyprus Marine and Maritime Institute.
The Centre has already attracted a funding of over €40 million from the Government, the EU and the Cyprus shipping industry and is collaborating with universities and institutions from all over the world, including the USA, Israel, UK and Ireland.
The objective is to increase both the production of innovative marine technology and the availability of shipping expertise, so that Cyprus continues to grow as a maritime cluster and improves its prominent role in the formulation of the EU and international maritime policies.
As a maritime nation, we are fully aware that we are much stronger not on our own, but as part of a dynamic and forward-looking team.
That is why, asides being deeply grateful to all of you for your presence, we fully appreciate the excellent bilateral working relationship and cooperation we have established with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and we have honoured to have the Organisation’s Secretary General, Mr Ki - tack Lim, with us.
In this respect, I would like to assure you Mr. Lim that Cyprus will continue to actively and constructively participate in the future evolution of the Organisation, including on implementing new strategies, such as improving maritime safety and environmental protection.
I would like to yet again to warmly thank the distinguished delegates of the international maritime and shipping industry whose presence validates their ongoing trust and support to Cyprus and its shipping industry.
Last but not least, I express my sincere appreciation to the Cyprus Shipping Chamber and the Cyprus Union of Ship-owners for their active and positive contribution to the evolution of Cyprus’ shipping industry, and for the expertise and professionalism which has always characterized their collaboration with the Government and the Deputy Ministry.
In concluding, I wish to all every success in the deliberations that are to follow the next couple of days and a successful conclusion of the Conference.
I have no doubt that – as the most important components of our efforts to further advance Cyprus’ position in the international shipping environment - through a productive exchange of views you will identify new joint initiatives, as well as new areas for future co-operation.