Greece remains the global leader in shipping, according to the annual report by the Union of Greek Shipowners (EEE). Although this country accounts for just 0.16% of the global population, Greek shipowners control 20.67% of the global shipping capacity and 54.28% of capacity in the European Union, in 2019 data.
The report highlights that in the period from 2007 to 2019 the Greeks more than doubled the shipping capacity of their fleet; they have invested to a great extent in new and energy-efficient vessels, taking the average age of the Greek-owned fleet to 9.17 years, well below the mean rate of the global fleet (9.61 years).
Along with Singapore, China and Hong Kong, all of which have recently added to their fleets, as well as Japan, Greece completes the world’s big five shipping powers.
The main challenge for Greek shipping remains the “immediate strengthening of the Greek register’s competitiveness, so as to contain the outflow of vessels from it, before the situation becomes irreversible,” EEE President Theodore Veniamis notes in the report, adding also the need to revive the seafaring character of the Greek people.
Those two issues, the national register and maritime employment, “are intertwined matters that require an integrated approach and strategy, constituting the priorities of the national shipping policy,” Veniamis comments.
In this context he believes that the recent reforms for recruiting Greeks to Greek-flagged ships under conditions that are compatible with practices in the international shipping labor market will offer fresh strength to the Greek register, “rendering our vessels an attractive option.”
As for the recession the pandemic has brought, the report records that it has led to a deterioration in the chartering market, with some ship categories experiencing a nosedive in rates and demand next to zero. Therefore, Veniamis argues, “the sustainability of shipping companies must be safeguarded, which requires securing their cash flow and some flexibility in the repayment of their loans.”
He added that, to that end, the industry has asked the European institutions and banks to include shipping firms in the horizontal measures for the pandemic.