The year 2004 was great for Greek shipping, but the continuation of the industry’s significant contribution to the national economy depends on whether the government acts to turn Piraeus into a modern shipping center, the Union of Greek Shipowners (EEE) said on Wednesday. «In 2004 we witnessed rare dynamism and stability in the freight rates market, along with admirable energy on the part of shipping enterprises,» EEE’s president, Nikos Efthymiou, told the members’ annual assembly. He noted that last year, a series of developments occurred which reshaped the whole shipping industry, and the protection of Greek interests was a difficult proposition requiring work, careful study and collective effort. Efthymiou stressed that in 2004, the foreign currency inflow from Greek-managed ships across the world was an estimated $17 billion, i.e. more than 13 billion euros. Bank of Greece data showed that in the year’s first 11 months, the inflow came to 12.1 billion euros, up by 40.6 percent year-on-year, turning it into Greece’s best exporting industry, Efthymiou pointed out. «The Greek shipping industry, due to the inherently extroverted character it is obliged to develop daily, cannot in the current circumstances channel a crucial part of its revenue to the state coffers, although it wants to in all honesty,» said the EEE president, suggesting that «for a ship to be productively linked with its national base, it is not shipping that should step backward but the state that must step forward to meet it in a modern and well-organized shipping center in Piraeus.» The Greek-managed fleet came to 3,370 ships with a capacity of 109 million gt and 180 million dwt. Of these, 256 ships with a capacity of 14 million gt and 23 million dwt were under construction. It represents 15.5 percent of global capacity in deadweight tonnage regarding ships in service. Ships in shipyards represent 8 percent of all ships being built internationally, 12 percent of global gt capacity and 14 percent of global dwt capacity. Efthymiou added that last year, 140 ships were added to the Greek register while 143 were withdrawn, yet total capacity rose by 750,000 register tons.