Op-Ed: Greece Remains at Top of Shipping Economy

Published Feb 19, 2014 9:19 AM by The Maritime Executive

By John Nikolaou

Despite the economic downturn, Greek shipowners have proved once again to be the leaders of the global shipping industry. It is worth noting that they control 16% of the global fleet in terms of dwt and own 23.5% and 18.5% of total tanker and bulker tonnage, respectively.

During 2013 they invested nearly $13 billion for 275 newbuildings, estimated at 25% of the global orderbook. More specifically, they invested $4.5 billion on 134 bulkers, $4 billion for 51 LPG and LNG carriers, $3 billion on 65 tankers and $1.6 billion on 25 container ships.

These orders, which varied from traditional to modern tonnage segments, strengthened the relationship between Greece and Asia. Chinese banks, in particular, support these investments as they hold a loan portfolio of $1.5 billion, while 60% of Chinese oil imports are carried by Greek ships. In the last seven years Greek shipowners have invested more than $17 billion in Chinese shipyards.

Additionally, Greek shipping companies excel in the capital markets in terms of raising funds to support further ship purchases. During the last week alone, three companies have managed to raise nearly $200 million.

Meanwhile, the Greek government has tripled the capacity tax on all vessels. The President of the Union of Greek Shipowners, Theodoros Veniamis, described the three-year tax that applies to all ships belonging to companies based in Greece, regardless of their flag, as a violation of the union’s previous initiative for the optional doubling of the capacity tax. He also expressed his belief that the Greek government will find other, more efficient ways to attract revenues, such as the introduction of more new vessels to the Greek flag. – MarEx

John Nikolaou is based in Athens. He is a Financial Analyst with Coca Cola HBC and blogs about the maritime industry.