Piraeus shipping upgrade

In a bid to develop the shipping sector in Piraeus, the government is considering adopting an ambitious program to make Athens’s port city an international shipping center in keeping with Greek shipowners’ leading role in world shipping. The Cabinet discussed measures last Monday and Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis is expected to announce them soon. Sources say that the government is thinking of upgrading the level of studies offered to students who are planning to work in the merchant marine, as well as improving services offered by the shipping industry along the lines of those found in London. Britain, which has 1.2 percent of the world’s shipping fleet, has a highly sophisticated service sector which employs 800,000 people and equals 5.4 percent of GDP. Greece, whose fleet is 10 times bigger, has only a tenth as many people employed in the service sector and shipping contributes 2.5 percent to Greece’s GDP. Greeks are dependent on foreign companies for shipping registers, marine insurance, shipbrokers, classification, legal support, arbitration, litigation, Protection and Indemnity Clubs, and so on. Sources in the shipping sector in Piraeus say that Greeks could provide these services if the necessary legal framework were provided and if the State did not intervene in the workings of the sector.