Shipping, in general, has long favoured registering vessels in countries with favourable tax regimes, and many of these are also considered to be tax havens.
Which countries are defined as tax havens varies over time, however, statistically the majority
of containerships are owned in what are classed to be tax havens by the report “Tax Havens: International Tax Avoidance and Evasion” published 15 January 2015 by the US Congressional Research Service.
The initial report classified 50 countries as tax havens with 26 of these having containerships registered with them according to SeaIntel, a later revised list reduced the number of tax havens with boxships registered to 17 countries.
Based on the initial list the percentage of containership tonnage registered in tax increased from 12% in 1980 to 74% in 2017 – the majority flagged with Liberia and Panama.
The revised list of tax havens shows a slightly different picture although the majority of boxships are still registered in tax havens. This sees the figure peak at 58% of containership tonnage in 2013, and reduce to 53% by 2017.
Lars Jensen ceo of SeaIntel said: “Even in the most positive light, the conclusion must be that in the period 1980-2010, the registration of container vessel tonnage was systematically favouring a shift towards countries often labelled as tax havens.
“Depending on how such countries are defined, the trend may or may not be broken, but even if it has been broken, the reversal of the trend is very small indeed.”