Shipowners to press for more incentives

Greek shipowners are expected to press the government for stronger incentives that will boost the competitiveness of the national merchant fleet. The Greek Shipowners’ Union (EEE) and the London-based Hellenic Shipping Cooperation Committee are meeting in the British capital on March 25 with a view to formulating a joint position. «The time has come for the responsible government officials to understand the need for measures in favor of shipping, when it contributes substantially to the national economy,» said an EEE source. Greek-owned shipping has increased from 2,426 vessels, totaling a capacity of 84.4 dwt, in 1990, to 3,338 ships with a total capacity of 182.5 dwt today. In other words its capacity more than doubled, while the number of vessels rose about 40 percent. Meanwhile, Greek shipowners also have about 100 pending orders with shipbuilders, worth $3.7 billion. Greece’s foreign currency earnings from shipping rose from 9.5 billion euros in 2003 to 13.3 billion in 2004 and 13.9 billion euros last year. EEE President Nikos Efthymiou told the agency’s last assembly that «we need a policy and services for a well organized, world-class shipping center.» «Only in this way will the national register grow, the largest part of foreign exchange inflows remain at home and the number of highly paid jobs both at sea and offshore will rise.»