Cyprus is on the hunt for a shipping minister.
The country is seen by some through a financial lens, having had its financial troubles (over-leveraged banks in 2012) but fought back from it, and has still retained its place on the global shipping map. Some see Cyprus as a bastion for ship management, with competitive taxes and ship registry, and little else. There is more in the country however, such as academic, surveying and maritime IT sectors.
But recent activity from a growing number of maritime clusters around the world are threatening the position of this small Mediterranean island. Limassol is Cyprus’s shipping capital, and in a recent report on shipping capitals of the world by the consultancy Menon, it ranks in the lower part of the top 30.
This is a country now set on appointing a deputy minister that will be solely responsible for the country’s shipping position, and therefore raise it up these kinds of lists. Talking at a Maravilhosa shipping event in the new DP World cruise terminal at Limassol, Cyprus’s minister of Transport, Communication and Works Marios Demetriades said the position will be aimed at bringing in much more of the shipping spectrum, to make Limassol more relevant to shipping.
Cyprus needs to look at bringing in other parts of the industry, said the minister, highlighting the opportunities to gain from global development such as Brexit, and pointing specifically to insurance and P&I.
This is a country that cannot sit still and pat itself on the back, saying it has a good reputation, according to Andreas Chrysostomou, currently the acting European head of the Cruise Lines International Association. He is former director of the country’s department of merchant shipping, and chair of the IMO’s marine environment protection committee, working for 23 years as a civil servant.
He was talking about the risks of Cyprus stagnating rather than working harder to maintain a competitive edge in an international shipping and maritime industry that is seeking much more dynamic changes, consolidation and competition.
Sat next to him on the panel was Mark O’Neil, chief executive of Columbia Marlow, the new ship management firm formed out of the recent merger of Columbia Ship Management and Marlow Group’s ship management business
O’Neil pointed to the growing competition from other clusters, notably Singapore, which sits at the top of the Menon list, and which like Cyprus is a relatively small island state in geographic size, but with a large position in the global maritime industry. Cyprus has to be creative he said, and it has to come with government support.
The minister said the new shipping minister post should be filled in the early part of this year