Union of Greek Shipowners: 20% of the Global Fleet is Owned by Hellenic Shipping Companies
Last year, although there were many fluctuations in freight markets, the long-standing shipping recession seemed to be coming to an end. The beginning of 2018 finds our shipping industry maintaining the highest position internationally, controlling about 20% of the global fleet in dwt tonnage (including a 30% share of tankers and 22% of bulk carriers) and representing almost 50% of the European Union fleet capacity in dwt terms. During the recent visit of our delegation to Washington D.C., the strategic importance of Greek shipping and the essential services it has provided over time to the US economy were widely recognized and appreciated by the US government and administration, confirming that one of our major trading partners considers us an important and reliable ally.
At international level, the shipping industry is called upon to face significant environmental and technological challenges in the near future in order to respond to today’s political expectations which often hold shipping disproportionately responsible for meeting environmental standards compared to other industries. This stance is due to the fact that shipping performs its vital role for the welfare of all nations “out of sight and out of mind…” and its operations and requirements are not properly understood. Shipping is a highly competitive and mobile global industry. Therefore, national or regional shipping policies cannot remain static.
They need to constantly respond to developments and adapt to measures applicable at international level both in terms of the attractiveness of the ship registries and the framework for the establishment and operation of shipping companies. Greek shipowners believe it is their duty to remain in the forefront for meeting these challenges by providing long standing expertise and know-how in our sectors. It is this in-depth knowledge and experience that gives us the right to defend against policies that ignore the true facts and the conditions required for the efficient and sustainable operation of shipping. At national level, it is very positive that the role of Greek-owned shipping has become widely accepted and respected beyond political parties as a national asset of the highest significance.
This attitude is one of responsibility towards the maritime history and tradition of our nation and a guarantee that Greek shipping will maintain its close ties with its homeland. In this context, the shipping community is making every effort to enhance the seamanship of the Greek nation, which is a prerequisite for continuing the maritime know-how that our industry needs. Both the State and the seafarers’ Unions will have to step up their efforts towards this goal in order to succeed in promoting the maritime profession and upgrading maritime education and training, with a view to increasing the number of seafarers, especially in the current times when young people are in great need of employment opportunities. Our country should also take advantage of developments in Europe in order to attract a big part of maritime and ancillary activities, through the adoption of a growth platform.
The dynamism of our shipping sector, which is the cornerstone for the development of an advanced international maritime cluster already exists: what is needed is the appropriate institutional framework and the capitalization of our country’s key geopolitical position. Lastly, shipping is the first Greek business sector that, at the initiative of the UGS, established in April 2016 the Greek Shipowners’ Social Welfare Company with the distinctive title “SYN-ENOSIS”, the official collective vehicle of the Greek shipping community for the implementation of social solidarity and welfare projects. Its work is multidimensional and constantly progressing on the basis of the needs of Greek society, with a vision to further extend to socially beneficial actions of greater scope in line with the long-standing social contribution of shipping. No doubt the challenges are many and continuous, both nationally and internationally. Our shipping community with the UGS as its sole representative remains committed to preserving the quantitative but also qualitative primacy of Greek shipping internationally.
Theodore Veniamis, President of the Union of Greek Shipowners