Inflows from shipping sector rose last year

Greek-owned shipping recorded further growth in 2003 and now accounts for 18.3 percent of world capacity and 48.5 percent of European Union capacity in DWT. The new acquisitions also give Greek owners an edge in the trend toward so-called «quality shipping,» according to Nikos Efthymiou, president of the Union of Greek Shipowners (EEE), who presented the figures at the annual general assembly yesterday. According to October 2003 data, 238 Greek-owned vessels were under construction, totaling a capacity of 21.7 million DWT. Efthymiou said the estimated cost of the new orders exceeded two Greek state budgets. A study by the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) estimates Greece’s foreign exchange earnings in 2003 in the region of 9 billion euros, making for a 17.8 percent rise in the surplus of the country’s transport services balance. In 1997, such earnings amounted to just 1.7 billion euros. However, this positive development appears to be going largely untapped by the national economy, as a large part of the inflow goes out again because of the lack of a proper shipping policy and inadequate infrastructure for the industry. Efthymiou contrasted the performance of Greek shipping in an extremely competitive global market with the attitude of Greek authorities – which, he said, are unable to grasp that shipping is a tool for prosperity and national prowess at virtually zero cost to the Greek taxpayer. «Whenever measures were adopted by the government, they hadn’t the required boldness and breadth to link shipping with the national economy to rejuvenate the low national productivity with its dynamic added value,» he said. A serious issue that concerned shipping in 2003 were developments regarding permanent means of access (PMAs) to vessels. These concern compliance with the new regulations of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) which provide for ships to be equipped with permanent means of access for inspection and the technical requirements for their application, and which will come into force in January 2005 for new tankers of more than 500 GT and bulk carriers of more than 20,000 GT. Efthymiou complained that the Merchant Marine Ministry has not taken adequate account of EEE’s strong reservations regarding the application of technical requirements for PMAs and merely proposed their amendment to IMO.