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Cyprus President calls for support to strengthen its maritime industries

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades has called on the country’s shipowners and shipmanagers to add their weight to efforts by the government to further strengthen the island’s position in the shipping world within 2017.

Anastasiades heaped praise the country's shipping community telling them they have been “the closest collaborators of the government on shipping and a steady supporter in its efforts to improve infrastructure, policies and procedures so as to meet the increasing demands and challenges of international shipping".

But, addressing the 28th agm of the Cyprus Shipping Chamber (CSC), in Limassol on 19 May the president called for closer cooperation and input as the government works to lift the country from third rank in the European Union and 11th in the world.

In a prepared speech delivered by Transport, Communication and Works Minister, Marios Demetriades, the President said the CSC’s contribution, support and cooperation was “substantial” in all shipping matters relating to technical and policy issues, as well as in modernising the maritime legislation, promoting the Cyprus flag and Cyprus shipping.

He then vowed: “We will do our utmost to enhance the competitiveness of our flag and of our maritime cluster. Our objective for the future is to consolidate and further develop our role in world shipping and to provide the conditions for sustainable growth of the shipping sector in Cyprus.”

He said part of the new shipping strategy was the significant increase of its presence in important shipping capitals with a number of visits and road shows in Hong Kong, China, USA, UK, Germany and Greece. "Furthermore, a study for the identification of new shipping markets and ship types has been recently completed and it will be fully utilised within 2017 with the aim to increase our fleet,” said Anastasiades.

He noted the goal is to create three new cabinet offices – for shipping, tourism and development – but said this has been bogged down in parliament.

“A testimony of our commitment and support to the shipping industry is the bill for the creation of a self-standing Shipping Ministry, which we have submitted a few months ago to parliament. I believe introduction of this specially designed and innovative mechanism is essential, not only for reinforcing further this sector but also in conveying a clear message of political support that will constitute a convincing leverage for attracting additional quality shipowners and shipping companies to Cyprus,” said Anastasiades.

Appealing to all political parties to approve the relevant bill he said the plan is to restructure the administration to increase its functionality, effectiveness and flexibility “with a direct and immediate effect in the further development of both our flag and our maritime cluster”.

CSC chairman Themis Papadopoulos appealed to the parliamentary groups to urgently approve the bill on establishing the Deputy Ministry for Shipping.

Meanwhile Anastasiades noted that “regrettably, Cyprus shipping is still faced with the trade prohibitions imposed by Turkey on Cyprus ships calling at Turkish ports”, an issue placed on the list of Cyprus government priorities and “efforts will be intensified and continue until these illegal trade restrictions are lifted".

Magda Kopczynska the head of the Maritime Transport and Logistics Unit of the Directorate General for Mobility and Transport told the meeting it's the European Commission’s view that the Turkish embargo on Cyprus-flag vessels should be lifted immediately.

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