Seatrade Maritime is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Greek shipping ‘under attack from many quarters’: UGS

Greek shipping ‘under attack from many quarters’: UGS
A feisty Theodore Veniamis, president of the Union of Greek Shipowners, pulled no punches when he told fellow shipowners gathered for the UGS agm, on 3 February, that Greek shipping is under attack from many quarters.

"At a particularly crucial time for the Greek economy, our shipping, the country's most prolific pillar, is being targeted and the legal uncertainty and investment insecurity generated by this may cause a flight, not only of the Greek fleet, but also of the European one, to places outside Europe which are more welcoming international shipping centers."

A message clearly aimed at a range of recipients created a lively discussion, at an agm where taxation issues were very much on everyone’s mind following the European Commission’s decision to ask Greece to amend key provisions of the legal framework under which shipping operates.

Brussels says Greece is not in compatibility with the so-called State aid Guidelines (SAG) on state aid to maritime transport, something Veniamis and Greek shipping generally disputes.

"Provisions identified as inadmissible are the same, or similar, to those in many EU member states," declared Veniamis, repeating his claim the whole issue “is a hypocritical move against Greek shipping and Greece in general” while pointing out Greek shipping is in the highest tax bracket in Europe.

The UGS president said the state of global shipping is reflected in the stricken dry bulk sector, which he said "is facing its worst time in history, with a dramatic decline of the BDI”, as well the slowdown of world trade.

But he did note “there is another side to the coin, as tankers enjoy their best market since 2008”.

Veniamis said the industry is experiencing serious concern and conflicting emotions. “We all need composure and alertness in decision-making. Shipping has gone through difficult situations and transitions before and has always found the way to survive and recover.”

He made a point of congratulating shipping companies for participating in the voluntary doubling of tonnage tax, a measure which will likely remain in force to 2020.

But he was critical of the lack of political will to improve maritime education, saying "the UGS has presented a holistic proposal to improve sandwich courses" and absorbing students cadets for the mandatory course at sea". He said the UGS continues to financially support maritime academies along with building infrastructure and providing equipment.