Greek shipowners relocate to Cyprus as economic crisis deepens



AS the financial and banking crisis in Greece continued unabated, Greek shipowners are examining the option of setting up subsidiaries in Cyprus.

Greek shipowners were recently in Nigeria to sign a Memoradum of Understanding (MoU) with their Nigeria counterparts on the acuisition of 40 ships for cabotage trade

The Director General of the Cypriot Shipping Chamber, Thomas Kazakos, said a number of Greek shippers have contacted Cypriot authorities for information on the procedures required and the tax system on the island.

In a report published by Cyprus News Agency, yesterday, Kazakos said: “We provide the information and the choice is theirs.”

Kazakos also confirmed in a statements that there has been quite a bit of activity in recent days by Greek companies whose officials are contacting Cypriot shipping service companies to ask about the tax status and other requirements for a shipping firm to operate in Cyprus.

“Cyprus’ shipping infrastructure, meaning the tax and management system that have to do with shipping, is something Greek ship owners consider an attractive, competitive, law abiding and transparent system,” said Kazakos.

Besides the current uncertainty in Greece, it is reported some shippers are even considering emigrating to Cyprus given the proposal led by European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker that tax rates on Greek based shipping companies be reviewed and increased.

Some 40 per cent of the ships flying the Cypriot flag are Greek-owned. Cyprus is the third European flag behind Malta and Greece and with some 19m gt registered Cyprus controls four per cent of the global fleet, while some 87 per cent of companies on the island are controlled by European Union interests. Limassol is the home of some 130 ship management companies conducting international activities from the island.

Part of the agreement signed with Nigerian shipowners entails acquisition of 40 vessels from a consortium of Greek shipowners for use in Nigeria cabotage trade.

The vessels will be of various classes and tonnage, and will all be delivered within the next two years.

Speaking on the benefits of the MoU, the factional president of NISA, Captain Niyi Labinjo (Rtd) explained that the essence of the partnership between Nigerian and Greece shipowners is to create jobs for Nigerians.

He said: ‘We have signed the agreement between us and Greeks and Nigeria will acquire the 40 ships in not less than 24 months.

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