BUSINESS

Greek shipping companies would consider moving out, study finds

ILIAS BELLOS

TAGS: Shipping

Roughly one in two Greek shipping companies (56 percent) would consider relocating their administrative bases abroad, according to the findings of an Ernst & Young study titled “Repositioning Greece as a Global Maritime Capital.”

The study’s results warn of a possible exodus by the country’s shipping enterprises at a time when global maritime centers are interested in attracting Greek shipowners.

The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition is also causing uncertainty for the Greek shipping industry with its prolonged examination of its legal framework in Brussels.

“If the local shipping sector’s legal framework becomes noncompetitive, or far more attractive offers are made by other countries, then a major exodus by Greek-owned shipping companies is possible,” warned one sector entrepreneur, echoing the sentiment of the Greek Shipowners Association.

In its recent annual report, the association underlined that the prevailing uncertainty is threatening Greek shipping, which represents half of Europe’s industry. The prospect of relocations by shipping firms to new bases offering more favorable conditions – beyond Europe, or even within Europe, to non-EU countries – can no longer be ruled out, the Greek Shipowners Association report warned.

Taxation and the regulatory framework, which scored 84 percent and 64 percent respectively in the study, were cited as the main reasons that would prompt shipowners to seek new bases, according to Ernst & Young. Singapore and London ranked as the most popular alternative destinations, with scores of 52 percent and 48 percent respectively.

For the time being, Greece continues to find itself among the maritime capitals offering attractive environments for shipping companies, but the future is uncertain, sector pundits underlined, citing the fears felt over legal, regulatory and tax terms as primary concerns.

A total of 72 percent of the Ernst & Young study’s respondents noted they would actively support an official campaign for Greece’s international promotion and further development as a global maritime capital.

International competition is intensifying, especially in Asian emerging markets, meaning that Greece’s comparative advantages alone will no longer suffice for the country to maintain its position as a maritime capital, the study noted.

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