ECONOMY

Domestic shipping companies are having hundreds of vessels built

As many as 70 Greek shipping companies are having new ships built for them in various shipyards around the world, mainly in China, Korea and Japan. Greek Union of Shipowners data show they are currently building 298 vessels of total capacity of 22,618,543 tons. Out of these ships 177 will raise the Greek flag, as shipping companies have informed the Merchant Marine Ministry. Most new ships are tankers (193) and bulk carriers (83). Greek Shipping Cooperation Committee data reveal that Greek-owned ships in March numbered 3,338, totaling 182,540,868 dwt. These vessels were under 45 different national flags. Most of them (29 percent) are in the register of Greece, followed by Panama (17 percent), Malta (16 percent), Cyprus (12 percent), the Bahamas (7 percent) and Liberia (6 percent). Another figure confirming the progress of Greek shipping is the foreign exchange influx from it, which in the year’s first four months has risen by 8.34 percent annually. In January-April 2005 the figure came to 4,639.4 million euros, from 4,282.1 million in the same period last year and 3,820.3 million euros in 2003. Shipping companies based in Greece record a rise, the ministry’s 2003 records show. Out of 1,098 companies required to submit their activity data for 2003, 633 were involved in ship management and the other 465 were active in chartering and other shipping operations. The 1,069 companies that did submit their 2003 results brought in $1,773,356,309, from $1,337,294,480 the year before, a 32.6 percent rise. Office operating expenses set back companies by $457,680,062 in 2003 from $346,880, 217 in 2002, a 31.9 percent rise. Other costs such as taxes, crew wages and ship maintenance came to $1,229,103,380 in 2003, from $946,496,598 in 2002, a rise of 29.8 percent. The staff employed in 2003 by firms based in Greece reached 11,030 people (9,710 Greeks and 1,320 foreigners), against 10,922 employed in 2002. Separately, the annual Petrofin Research report for 2005 notes that one in every four companies active in 1998 has now ceased to operate for various reasons. The report stresses that «the Greek shipping industry appears to be undergoing a transition phase, with its main feature being the dramatic drop in the number of small shipping companies, i.e. those managing one or two vessels.» In 1998 more than half of domestic shipping firms had 1-2 ships, while today such companies take only a 41.73 percent share. The absolute number of these companies, which once were the basis of renewal and growth of Greek-owned shipping, has nearly been cut in half.