ECONOMY

Plans to draw shipping firms to Piraeus may include tax breaks

The government is putting together a series of incentives, which may include tax breaks, to draw leading shipping firms from around the world to Piraeus as Greek shipowners start to express interest in moving out of London. Shipping is facing the possibility of a major shift, with some of the sector’s largest players considering a move away from the British capital in response to plans from authorities to introduce a new tax on foreign individuals. Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis, who met with Greek shipowners in the British capital last week, said yesterday Greece will aim to create a more favorable business environment in Piraeus. «I explained there is institutional stability and we have decided to look at tax measures that can help,» the minister told Skai Radio. «Steps that will allow people to come to Piraeus, not just Greeks from London but also shipowners of other nationalities.» Talk of Greek family-owned shipping companies moving out of London has been sparked by plans from Britain’s Treasury to charge non-domiciled foreign residents with a new 30,000-pound (39,720-euro) tax. According to sources, about 30 companies have moved to Athens from London since 2000 due to concerns they would become liable for income tax on foreign earnings. However, the question remains as to where these businesses may move after having been in London for a number of years. «We need to wait and see what the impact might be. There is already a lot of business being done in Piraeus,» said a senior bank source. About one-quarter of the global shipping business is currently done through Piraeus, which competes with Cyprus, Dubai, Singapore, New York and London in the maritime services industry. [email protected]