Shipowners start to see credit lines

Credit has begun trickling back to Greece’s shipping sector as international freight rates start to show signs of recovery, according to a senior industry official. Greek shippers own one-fifth of the world’s fleet and the sector accounts for about 7 percent of Greece’s annual gross domestic product (GDP). «There are some optimistic signs that banks have started to issue credit,» Nikos Efthymiou, president of the Union of Greek Shipowners (EEE), said yesterday. Slumping global demand has hurt the sector, responsible for transporting some 95 percent of international trade goods. However, freight rates have rebounded slightly, with another possible improvement expected after June, depending on the course of the US economy, Efthymiou said. The Baltic Dry Index, a measure of shipping costs for commodities, yesterday continued its best start to a year since at least 1986, according to Bloomberg. The index tracking transport costs on international trade routes advanced 4.5 percent, to 1,148 points, according to the Baltic Exchange.

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