ECONOMY

Minister in London for shipping contacts

Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Anomeritis is traveling to London today to meet with the Greek shipowners’ Maritime Cooperation Committee. Sources said talks will focus on substantial issues, pending the adoption of significant decisions and measures concerning the competitiveness of Greek merchant shipping. According to sources, the ministry is coming round to the conclusion that gains from lowering the cost of the Greek Register will be a multiple of the cost of any opposition from labor unions. In talks with employers and unions since assuming office in October, Anomeritis, who originates from Andros, an island with extensive interests in shipping, is said to have strongly indicated a readiness to push for the modernization of legislation regarding the industry, with a view to promoting Greece’s merchant marine as a strong political weapon in the European Union. A senior member of the London-based committee, who declined to be named, yesterday welcomed Anomeritis’s presence in the post. «It is fortunate that the former Agriculture Minister, who must have felt as the ‘poor relation’ amidst his colleagues in the sessions of the EU’s Farm Ministers Council, has been appointed to the ministry of merchant marine, which holds a leading position in the European Union. He must surely have realized the power of the industry and should support it,» the committee member said. In contacts with EU commissioners of Transport and Energy, Loyola de Palacio, and of Social Affairs, Anna Diamantopoulou, in Brussels last November, Greek shipowners stressed the economic and strategic importance of the EU’s merchant fleet, particularly in securing oil supplies and raw materials in times of crisis. Today, Greek-owned shipping, including vessels sailing under foreign flags, is a world leader with a fleet of more than 3,200 ships of all types (over 1,000 grit), totaling more than 75 million tons. It accounts for 16 percent of world capacity and about 50 percent of EU capacity. «The level of exchange rate does not disturb us,» a senior central bank official told Reuters. «What is important is how it got there. If volatility increases, that would disturb us.» Forex traders said that was no change in the bank’s position.