Importance of Shipping for Greece
The history, culture and economy of Greece are inextricably linked to the sea and shipping. Over the years shipping emerged as one of the main pillars of the Greek economy which has constantly supported economic development. Maritime operations underline the national presence all over the globe, strengthen the relations with other maritime nations and reinforce the country’s territorial and social cohesion as well as the EUs’ as a whole. These characteristics in combination with its geophysical configuration, have contributed to develop a very competitive maritime sector in Greece, which has a significant contribution to the national economy (almost 9% of the Gross Domestic Product).
Piraeus, the largest port of the country, is the nucleus of Greek and Greek-owned shipping where activities of maritime operators and associated sectors are being developed. Along with the highly specialized human capital employed in these sectors, a dynamic process of economic synergies is being developed which characterizes and completes the maritime cluster.
The established branch offices of foreign shipping companies (Law 27/75 – ocean going shipping) which are established in Greece, mainly in Piraeus, are exceeding 1.400 offices whilst there are 3,700 active maritime companies (Law 959/79 – mainly active in cabotage and short-sea shipping) , providing direct employment of approximately 16.000 individuals and highlighting Piraeus as a worldwide maritime center and basis of expertise in technical and commercial management of vessels.
The maritime activities performed in Piraeus extend to financial / banking services, legal services, marine insurance, shipbuilding and ship repair, towage and maritime assistance operations, shipping agencies, marine fuel supply, ship machinery and marine equipment, classification societies etc. Some of the most well-known financial institutions with significant shipping portfolios as well as leading Protection and Indemnity Clubs (P&I Clubs) have established subsidiaries in Piraeus, providing thereby valuable services to shipping companies. One hundred ninety two thousand (192,000) people are employed, directly or indirectly, in the Greek maritime cluster, significantly contributing to the country’s economic development and employment.
The main priority of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Insular Policy is to support and further develop of Greek Shipping, enhance employment opportunities for Greek seafarers and in shipping companies ashoreand establish structures that promote specialization and further contribute to the development and dissemination of the rich maritime knowledge base, factors which will finally result in broadening the competitive edge of Piraeus and Greek shipping as a whole.
Main Principles of the Greek Shipping Policy
Recognizing the contribution of shipping to the national economy and further to the Greek society, the Hellenic Maritime Administration supports on a constant basis shipping activities through a coherent institutional framework with positive measures aimed at fostering competitiveness of the maritime sector on the international scene, ensuring high-level representation at the EU and International Organizations, while guaranteeing a stable business environment for the further development of the Greek fleet and the maritime cluster.
Based on the belief that maritime transport, as a par excellence international activity, requires a free and stable global regulatory framework guaranteeing the unrestricted and non-discriminatory access of vessels to the worldwide movement of cargoes in conditions of free competition, Greece attributes particular importance to initiatives aiming at: (a) ensuring the maintenance of free trade principles and open shipping markets, and (b) preventing unilateral measures that might run counter to the prevalence of a free shipping environment. In this respect we remain committed to the pursue of further liberalisation of international maritime transport services, through negotiations between amongst major trade partners, be it at the level of WTO, EU agreements or bilaterally. Any initiative is undertaken taking into account the need for sustainable development and respect to the marine environment.
International Maritime Organization
Greece is one of the founding members of the International Maritime Organization and a constant member of the Category “A” of the IMO’s Council, where countries with the largest interest in providing international shipping services are elected.
Acknowledging the crucial role of the IMO in regulating all aspects relating to international shipping, Greece is actively participating in the deliberations to all IMO Organs, by submitting proposals that address in a realistic way the operation of international shipping, in order to ensure their uniform and global implementation, in order to be flag neutral and achieve the required level playing field.
The successful conduct of maritime trade has always been the foundation for the key position of Europe in the global economy. Maritime transport has always been considered as an integral part of the European commercial and cultural network, as well as an essential source of employment. It is noted that 80% of the European foreign trade is transfered by the sea.
Greece as an EU Member State is consistently implementing the EU maritime acquis and has a strong representation in all EU institutions and sectorial maritime fora, aiming to ensure that the legislative EU framework and the relevant maritime initiatives will take into account the need to implement the principles of unrestricted market access and ensuring a level playing field, and in the same time to ensure a high level of safety, security andsocial conditions as well as environmental protection.
The current priorities of the EU Member states aiming to the support, development and sustainability of the European shipping industry are reflected in the relevant EU Council Conclusions for maritime transport.
Maritime Relations with Third Countries
In an era of constant changes and geopolitical interlinkages, the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Insular Policy promotes the Greek Shipping industry as a reliable commercial partner, taking into account its ability to cover global transportation needs, pariculrly in the field of energy and raw materials. As a result, initiatives aim atthe continuousenhancement of our bilateral and trilateral maritime relations with third countries and upgrading the role of Greece in the domains of economic diplomacy, withshipping at the forefront.
In parallel, taking into account the need to secure open and free markets and fair competition, due to the international nature of shipping, several bilateral Maritime Agreements with major third countries are concluded.
The experienced, qualified and highly trained personnel of the Ministry supports Greek shipping throughout the year, day and night (24/7)in order to handle with professionalism all relevant issues facing Greek vessels and their seafarers around the globe, in cooperation with the extensive network of Maritime Attachés and Greek Diplomatic Missions worldwide.