The causes of a growing rift between Greece and Germany on the Greek institutional framework for ocean-going shipping are highlighted in the latest surveys by Clarkson-Platou and Deloitte.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble accused Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras a few days ago of failing to fulfill his promise about the taxation of shipowners. The European Commission, meanwhile, continues to urge Greece to reform its institutional framework for shipping, a process which, according to Brussels sources, started two years ago following pressure from rival interests in northern Europe.
So what do the latest data show? Shipbrokers Clarkson-Platou published a study showing that since 2010 – a crisis-riven period in freight markets with a significant impact on many German banks – Greek shipowners have expanded their combined fleet by 89.3 million gt (gross tonnage). At the same time, their German peers have reduced their own by 12 percent to 86.4 million gt.
Separately, Deloitte, the international consultancy company, found in a global survey that the competitiveness of European shipping is under pressure in relation to other international shipping centers due to the absence of a flexible tax and regulatory framework.
A comparison with five international shipping hubs (Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai, Shanghai and Vancouver), which have the biggest growth rate in the world, showed that the shipping policy pursued in the European Union lags in the main competitiveness indexes such as in tax and financial incentives, in the regulatory framework, the attractiveness of national registers and the legislative framework for shipping activities.
The same company’s tax services department recently issued a comparative study of the tax frameworks in Greece and Germany and in Greece with other shipping forces. It showed that the Greek capacity tax on ships is far higher than in any other country in the EU and 10 times as high as Malta’s.
Deloitte has also calculated that a Greek shipowner has to pay an annual tax of 68,328 euros for a dry bulk carrier of 58,000 deadweight tons (dwt), while an identical vessel owned by a German shipper would see him pay German taxes of just 23,850 euros.