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Promulgating Cyprus Shipping Industry

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By Roy Lie Atjam

It has been a pleasurable encounter meeting with the Shipping Deputy Minister of Cyprus, Vassilios Demetriades in the Anna Pavlova room Hotel Des Indes, on 1 September 2022.

Deputy Minister Vassilios Demetriades, an energetic and amicable gentleman. The Deputy Minister is in this position since July 2020.

The Cyprus Government attaches great emphasis on shipping and for this reason it has established a Deputy Ministry of Shipping. The Cyprus Shipping Deputy Ministry (SDM) focuses on safety and sustainability.

The Deputy Minister of Shipping reports directly to the President in the same way as all the other Ministers.  The establishment of Deputy Ministries in Cyprus instead of new Ministries is because of constitutional constraints that limit the number of Ministries to 10.

Deputy Minister Vassilios Demetriades aspires to promote Cyprus shipping globally and to communicate a positive image for the sector to the civil society. He will therefore exploit Cyprus’s maritime potentials to the fullest.  

Cyprus is the eleventh largest merchant fleet in the world, the third largest fleet in the European Union, and Europe’s largest ship management centre. Shipping contributes to 7% of Cyprus’s GDP.

Cyprus’s shipping industry is capable of competing in the world shipping market. We strive to promote the Cyprus flag while at the same time supporting the development of the European maritime industry by advancing new green technologies. When asked if Cyprus competes with the Liberia flag, Demetriades’ reply was a categorical no.

Cyprus is no novice to the world of shipping.

Since ancient times, the Biblical refers to Cyprus as a shipping nation. See the book of Numbers 24:24 “Ships will come from the coast of Kitʹtim. And they will afflict As·syrʹi·a. And they will afflict Eʹber.” The historian Josephus referred to Kittim as “Chethimos,” Cyprus, Kition-Citium. red.

The Shipping Deputy Ministry has recently presented “SEA Change 2030”, a strategic vision for Cyprus Shipping promoting a more extroverted, adaptable and sustainable future for the sector. A progress report on the implementation of the 35 sustainable actions that are incorporated in the Strategy is taking place every six months.

Furthermore, Cyprus is a leading advocate for sustainable shipping. Broad and diverse measures are needed at a global and regional level to achieve emissions reduction targets and a sustainable future for the industry.

Terms such as Green Tax Incentives, low-carbon alternative fuels, lower emissions, and enhanced cooperation at EU and global level are at the core of the Cyprus Shipping Deputy Ministry’s (SDM) activities.

A highlight of the Minister’s mission to the Netherlands was the launching ceremony of the new vessel MV. SOLVIK. Dutch build in 2022 that will operate under the Cyprus flag.

It is the property of SOLVIK Shipping Ltd., Limassol / SMT Shipping (Cyprus) Ltd. Featuring at the launching ceremony was the speech by Isobel Reed, SMT’s legal advisor and MV Solvik’s godmother. Reed wishes the vessel and her crew a lifetime of safety and good fortune.

The Solvik is a Dutch vessel under the Cyprian flag, may she swim well! Minister Vassilios Demetriades would like to see an enhanced cooperation between EU member states aiming to the promotion of environmentally sustainable shipping.

Mr. Vassilios Demetriades, Shipping Deputy Minister of Cyprus and Cyprus Ambassador H.E. Ms. Frances Lanitou Williams.

Minister Demetriades stated that shipping builds bridges, bringing together likeminded nations strengthening bilateral and multilateral relations, both at government and business level. It is important to work together in promoting a more positive image of the sector.

In unprecedented times, the ability of shipping services to continue undisrupted to transport food, energy and medical supplies across the continents play a critical role. During COVID-19 pandemic, Cyprus was one of the first countries worldwide that recognized seafarers as key workers. Cyprus implemented a formal crew change process, assisting with the repatriation of thousands of seafarers. The SDM also formulated and proposed a practical, global approach to delivering COVID-19 vaccinations to seafarers, which was then adopted by the International Labour Organization (ILO). Further recognizing the urgency of seafarer vaccination, and the role this would play in easing the crew change crisis, Cyprus then committed to vaccinating all crew onboard Cyprus-flagged and managed vessels with the adoption of a national vaccination plan to provide protection to over 40,000 seafarers.

In addition, in response to Russia invasion to Ukraine, Cyprus facilitated the opening of bank accounts for both Ukrainian and Russian seafarers to enable them, and their families, to easily access their wages. We also believed that shipowners and crew managers required an effective solution from flag states to a challenge that many were facing.

  • “SEA Change 2030” A strategic vision for Cyprus Shipping where “S.E.A” stands for the three strategic pillars: Sustainability Extrovert Adaptability creating a continuous, interactive and systematic approach to achieving the vision.

COME (Cyprus Open Maritime Exchange) is an online communication platform and engagement channel, a concrete example of extrovertness. It will enable shipping industry stakeholders, including non-governmental organisations and all other actors involved in the maritime transport and supply chain, to exchange views in ad hoc virtual meetings on current maritime affairs and emerging issues.

Mr. Vassilios Demetriades, Shipping Deputy Minister of Cyprus at Langue Voorhout in The Hague.

Cyprus is also in a continuous effort to strengthen ties with other States to exchange views and ideas on issues of common interest and formulate common policy approaches. An enhanced, effective and constructive dialogue with regulators and decision-makers at global and European Union level responsible for the formulation of shipping policies is an absolute must to ensure that the regulatory framework is fit for purpose.

Technology, digitalisation or even AI-Artificial Intelligence are key elements of transforming shipping. However, Cyprus believes that the human element will always be at the heart of shipping operations and it is extremely important to invest on education, training and up skilling of the workforce. Since diversity is good for business, the Deputy Ministry of Shipping is in the process of recruiting more women into the male-dominated shipping industry.

Deputy Minister Vassilios Demetriades was on a two-day working visit in the Netherlands.

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