Shipping Deputy Ministry Logo

Ladies and Gentlemen good morning,

It gives me great pleasure to be present here today in London, to deliver the keynote speech for the first Cyprus Forum London. I extend my appreciation to the organizers and in particular Mr. Nicolas Kyriakides and to the High Commissioner of Cyprus to the UK Mr. Kyriacos Kouros for the kind invitation for this important forum.

This event, organized here in London is truly unique, since it marks an exciting new chapter for this annual forum, dedicated to fostering dialogue and driving impactful change. Since its formation, the Cyprus Forum has been at the forefront of facilitating discussions and collaboration among policymakers, academics and civil society representatives.
Therefore, initiatives such as this one, are extremely important and are supported by the Government of Cyprus as they enhance the position of Cyprus in various fields ranging from shipping and tourism, to real estate and investment and showcase the abundant investment opportunities, conducive towards economic growth, innovation and sustainable development.

Cyprus and the United Kingdom have traditionally enjoyed excellent relations and outstanding cooperation.
In the field of shipping this culminated in the signing of a Memorandum of Cooperation between Cyprus and UK. Therefore, events such as this one create, an even stronger bond between our two countries.

Cyprus being an island maritime state, acknowledges the immense value our seas and oceans hold, not only for our economy but also for our cultural identity and recognizes that the ocean challenges are too big and cannot be tackled alone by any single country. It is for this reason that Cyprus has taken another decisive step forward by hosting last month the very first Commonwealth Ministerial Meeting devoted to the Ocean, under the theme "Our resilient common ocean: from Cyprus to Samoa".
The meeting was jointly chaired by myself and the Minister of Agriculture and it was attended by Ministers and officials from 28 Commonwealth countries and 12 observer organisations.
During the deliberations, we agreed, to lead on ocean protection and management, through the Commonwealth Blue Charter and a proposed Commonwealth Ocean Declaration, which will for the first time identify our shared priorities and collaborative actions around sustainable governance of the seas. Furthermore, we agreed on a clear roadmap for the drafting of the Declaration, that is expected to be adopted at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Samoa in October, this year.
I am also delighted to announce that, during the opening session of the meeting, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed for the establishment of a Blue Charter Center of Excellence in Cyprus. The MoU was signed by the Secretary General on behalf of the Commonwealth Secretariat, myself on behalf of the Republic of Cyprus and the CEO of the Cyprus Marine and Maritime Institute which will host the Center.

The aim of the Center of Excellence is to strengthen governance for a sustainable blue economy and to support scientific research on ocean protection.

The history of shipping goes back many centuries ago. The strategic geographical location of the island of Cyprus, at the crossroads of three continents, played a critical role in the development of Cyprus as an important shipping centre. The establishment of the Shipping Deputy Ministry in 2018, undoubtedly marked a new era for shipping in Cyprus, demonstrating the political support of all Governments and the commitment of Cyprus to the shipping sector.
This development enabled the increasement of the functionality, effectiveness and flexibility of the public shipping administration.
Today the Cyprus Registry ranks among the top registries in the world and last year marked 60 years since the establishment of the Registry of Cyprus Ships.
During the last 6 months we are very happy to have witnessed an increase of vessels registered under the Cyprus flag, amounting to 5.5%.

Cyprus is a modern, efficient and integrated maritime shipping cluster and is also ranked amongst the leading in the world. As a third-party ship management centre, it is the largest in Europe and amongst the top 3 worldwide.
At the same time, Cyprus has a large resident shipping industry with over 200 companies based in Cyprus, the majority here in Limassol, offering shipping and shipping -related activities ranging from ship ownership and ship management to shipping insurance, shipping finance, marine training, maritime technology in satellite and radio systems and many more.
Moreover, the Cyprus Tonnage Tax System continues to attract more companies, reaching today 420 in number, representing an increase of 14% during the last 12 months.

I am pleased to note that many shipping companies from the UK have recognized the advantages that Cyprus has to offer and have established their headquarters in Cyprus.
The island’s strategic location provides easy access to markets and the ideal time zone for running international operations. Cyprus has a simple and effective regulatory structure in place and with English widely spoken by a highly skilled workforce and the wider population in general, Cyprus is an ideal place for companies to develop and excel.

The stable taxation system, the high level of ship safety, the full protection for financiers and mortgage lenders, the specialized knowledge and experience, the 24/7 service, the zero registration fees and the exemption from income tax on ships serving on Cyprus ships, constitute a competitive and attractive framework of services and advantages offered by our Maritime Administration.

The continuous upgrading and strengthening of our services is undoubtedly one of the main priorities we have set.

Cyprus has made significant progress to simplify all procedures, reduce bureaucracy and to have a paperless Maritime Administration and our aim is to be fully digitalised by the end of this year.

This, in an effort, not only to improve our environmental footprint, but mainly to provide a more flexible, effective, efficient and customer-oriented service that will further increase the attractiveness of the Cyprus Ship Registry and its relevant services.

Cyprus also recognizes the importance of the quality of its fleet. The Cyprus flag is consistently classified in the “White List” of the Paris and Tokyo MoUs on port state control, illustrating our commitment to excellence of service and effective implementation of international safety, security and environmental protection standards.
Our top priority is to maintain and improve the exceptionally high quality for which the Cyprus flag is renowned.

We are very happy that Cyprus has achieved re-election at the Council of the International Maritime Organisation for the next biennium, maintaining and further strengthening our role in the decision-making process of the global shipping rules and regulations.

Another major international accomplishment is the decision of the IMO to bestow the first IMO Gender Equality Award to the candidate nominated by Cyprus.
This is indeed an important recognition of the efforts made by Cyprus to promote gender equality and women empowerment in shipping. On this occasion, on Friday I will attend the Gender Equality Award Ceremony and the celebration of the International Day for Women in Maritime, at the IMO Headquarters.

However, the shipping sector is not without its challenges. As shipping is a global industry it is more vulnerable to geopolitical developments and challenges. Starting in early 2022, the war in the Ukraine, impacted shipping and seaborne trade.

In recent months, international shipping has been faced with new challenges as a result of attacks by Houthi against ships crossing the Red Sea and more recently the unrest in Israel.
These attacks prompted the Shipping Deputy Ministry, to immediately adopt specific security measures for the protection of Cyprus ships and notify accordingly the shipping community.

Another challenge faced nowadays is the transition to green shipping. Decarbonizing shipping is indeed one of the most significant challenges faced by the shipping sector. The urgent need to address climate change has placed a spotlight on the maritime industry's carbon footprint.

As a leading advocate for sustainable shipping, we believe that comprehensive and diverse measures are necessary at both global and regional levels to achieve emissions reduction targets and ensure a sustainable future for the industry. Cyprus actively participates in the IMO and EU deliberations to formulate a broad and diverse set of actions required to achieve emissions reduction targets and we support the shipping industry to achieve its decarbonization goals providing green tax incentives to shipowners and operators, encouraging and supporting ships registered under the Cyprus flag to use alternative fuels.

Concluding Ladies and Gentlemen,

I wish to express the commitment of the Cyprus Government and especially our Presidents Mr. Nikos Christodoulides, that we will do our utmost to support and enhance the efforts, endeavours and objectives of our shipping industry.
Despite these turbulent times and the challenges, we are facing, we are confident that the steps that we have taken to enhance competitiveness and to promote shipping will contribute to our vision of growing our maritime cluster in both size and range of activities and will pave the way for a future, defined by prosperity, opportunity and enduring success.

Thank You.

CYPRUS FORUM LONDON - Shipping Deputy Minister’s Opening Address 15 May 2024, High Commission of the Republic of Cyprus to the UK (15/05/2024)