ECONOMY

Greece to create maritime service cluster and improve sea training

The government is planning to set up a maritime services cluster and aims at high-standard training for shipping professionals, so that more and more shipowners can raise the Greek flag and list as many ships as possible on the country’s register. The Special Secretariat for Competitiveness, consisting of officials from the ministries of Economy, Development and Merchant Marine, proposed in a recent report a set of internationally competitive shipping services, such as developing banking, financial and ship brokerage services, shipping insurances, ship management services, construction, repairs, refits and ship maintenance, crew management services and shipowners’ support services for alternative investments and port infrastructures. In its report, the secretariat also highlights the positive and negative aspects of Greek shipping. The pros include the 4,000 vessels of Greek shipowners, the maritime tradition, the country’s geographical location and its central position along the maritime axis linking Europe with the Middle East and Asia, as well as the lower costs than at other competitive shipping centers like London, New York and Oslo. The cons of Greek shipping are the often extreme unionism and the inflexible labor laws, the state bureaucracy and the lack of proper infrastructure, qualified staff and experience in maritime clusters. The aims stated in the report include increasing the Greek oceangoing fleet’s global share of the market to over 25 percent, offering incentives for raising the Greek flag, raising employment and job quality and convincing Greek shipowners to invest their available capital, possibly over $200 billion, in more sectors of the Greek economy than just shipping.