The Cypriot shipping industry has experienced strong growth since the creation of the shipping registry in 1963 and several ingredients have combined to make Cyprus one of the most important locations for a variety of maritime-related activities, including a benign tax regime, modern financial and legal infrastructure, low operating costs and geographical location at the junction of three continents.
As one of only two ‘open’ registries in the European Union (EU), it is estimated that the Cypriot fleet accounts for a quarter of all the ships registered in the EU; and the Cyprus shipping registry is the tenth-largest in the world. As a result, the sector makes a substantial contribution to the Cypriot economy, with recent figures indicating that shipping accounts for about 7% of gross domestic product.
Cyprus’s shipping industry got off to a slow start however, and it wasn’t until the 1980s that the rate of vessel registration accelerated rapidly; by 2000/2001, the Cypriot-registered fleet had reached a gross tonnage of almost 30 million from little more than 2 million gross tonnes in 1981. As of December 31, 2013, there were 1,809 vessels exceeding 22 million gross tons on the jurisdiction’s registry.
Cyprus is the biggest third party ship management centre in the EU, with about 60 ship management companies operating in the territory, and a substantial number of major ship management companies have chosen Cyprus in which to locate their headquarters. Other maritime-related activities which take place in Cyprus include bunkering, chartering, crewing, ship surveying, ship-broking, salvaging and marine insurance.
In recent years, the safety standards of the fleet have improved markedly, as evidenced by the removal of Cyprus from the Black List of the Paris and the Tokyo Memoranda of Understanding on Port State Control (Paris MOU and Tokyo MOU) and its promotion to the White List.
In April 2012, the Cypriot House of Representatives ratified the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 into the Cyprus national legislation. The Convention provides comprehensive rights and protection at work for the world’s more than 1.2 million seafarers. The new labour standard consolidates and updates more than 68 international labour standards related to the Maritime sector adopted over the last 80 years. Cyprus became the 26th member state of the International Labour Organisation to ratify the Convention. The Convention entered into force on August 20, 2013.
The Cyprus maritime sector is largely centred on Limassol, which has the island’s largest port, and this city houses a substantial maritime support network of freight operators, specialized legal firms, international logistics companies, ship financing brokerages, insurance agencies etc.
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