The opening of the internationally renowned “Maritime Cyprus 2015” Conference at the “Evagoras Lanitis Centre” in Limassol was a great success as it has been attended by distinguished speakers and more than 700 shipping personalities from around the world. The Conference, organised biennially in Cyprus, is taking place this year for the fourteenth time since 1989. The Conference organisers are the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Works, the Department of Merchant Shipping, the Cyprus Shipping Chamber and the Cyprus Union of Shipowners. The first day´s Conference theme was Shipping “Politics & Economics”.
Τhe Conference opening has been preceded by an Opening Reception held yesterday (Sunday 13 September 2015) at the Amathus Beach Hotel in Limassol where the “Cyprus Maritime Award 2015” was granted in recognition of the contribution of individuals or companies to the development of Cyprus Shipping. The “Cyprus Maritime Award 2015” was bestowed to Mr. Eleftherios (Eric) Montanios, Partner at Montanios & Montanios LLC.
Mr. Alecos Michaelides, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Works first addressed today´s Conference deliberations welcoming the participants. The Conference Opening Address of the President of the Republic of Cyprus Mr. Nicos Anastasiades was delivered by the Minister of Transport, Communications and Works, Mr. Marios Demetriades since the President was unable to attend due to other unforeseen commitments. Distinguished personalities comprised the panel of today´s speakers among them being Mr. Marios Demetriades, Minister of Transport Communications and Works, and Mr. Koji Sekimizu, Secretary General of the International Maritime Organization.
In his Opening Address, the President of the Republic of Cyprus Mr. Nikos Anastasiades, referred to the Cyprus shipping sector as the only sector in Cyprus whose size goes far beyond the size of Cyprus as a country. It is highly acknowledged that shipping acted as a catalyst towards the steady recovery of the Cyprus economy. Shipping and its sustainable growth is thus one of the main concerns and priorities of the Cyprus Government, the President mentioned. The President referred to the need to focus on the future of the Cyprus shipping sector in order to safeguard its steady and substantial growth. The President announced that a study on the Future of Cyprus Shipping has been commissioned by the Minister of Transport Communications and Works and completed in July 2015. The outcome of the Study has been to develop a Strategic Plan that sets new targeted goals and actions aiming at rendering the Department of Merchant Shipping more responsive to the challenges that our evolving shipping industry faces. The restructuring and upgrading of the Department of Merchant Shipping will be reviewed in close cooperation with the private sector.
A discussion followed on Shipping “Politics”: Regulators v. Industry. The Minister of Transport Communications and Works, Mr. Marios Demetriades was the moderator for this discussion whereas the panelists were Mr. Koji Sekimizu, Secretary General of the International Maritime Organization, Admiral Paul Thomas, Assistant Commandant for Prevention Policy, US Coast Guard, Mrs. Karin Orsel, Vice Chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping and Mr. Thomas Rehder, President of the European Community Shipowners´ Association. During the discussion, it was stressed that commercial shipping is faced with many challenges among them being the increasing use of a relatively restricted marine transportation system coupled with the mandate to reduce shipping’s environmental footprint. Various views were expressed highlighting the importance of adopting global rules for the international shipping industry. It was empasised that the successful adoption of international rules by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) derives from the fact that the IMO decisions, rules and regulations result from a constructive and genuine debate amongst ΙΜΟ Member States´ delegates and the industry representatives. Mention was made to the fact that political realities often do interfere. Particular reference was made to the regional approach adopted at times by the European Union and its Member States. Such regional attempts cause the industry and the regulators to clash. Smart global solution oriented legislation can contribute to the creation of more jobs and to the sustainable growth of shipping. It was further noted that the industry and the regulators need to coexist whilst the IMO is notably the most appropriate decision making forum. Furthermore, the shipping industry is a very valuable industry within the European Union and level playing field should be ensured.
Then, a discussion took place on The World Economy and the Shipping Cycle. Mr. George Mouskas, President of the Cyprus Union of Shipowners was the moderator for this discussion whereas the panel was comprised of Mr. Harry Vafias, CEO of StealthGas Inc., Professor Elias Karakitsos, Chairman of Global Economic Research LLC and Mrs. Ioanna Prokopiou of the Management of Sea Traders. The discussion focused on shipping demand and supply with particular reference to the coal and iron ore dry bulk markets as well as to the oversupply of tonnage despite demolition. It was stressed that the highest number of ship scrapping was noted in 2015. The panelists analysed the factors affecting the supply and demand imbalance in the dry bulk market aggravated by China´s lower coal imports. Reference was made to the expected increase of India´s coal imports which may possibly alleviate the huge drop in demand experienced in the Chinese market. The panellists expressed the concern that any small increase in demand may be offset by an increasing supply of ships since a slowdown in scrapping has been noted due to low scrap prices. Reference was made to the prognosis that low coal and iron ore prices should boost imports. The panellists further noted that the oversupply in tonnage should be reduced if ship scrapping is continued and owners refrain from placing new orders.
The Minister of Transport, Communications and Works, Mr. Marios Demetriades inaugurated today the “Maritime Services Exhibition”, forming part of the Conference, to which more than 40 exhibitors participate.