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Syriza Expected to Steer Clear of Shipping Industry

greece_shippingDialogue, discussion and finding solutions is what the new Syriza government plans to do with the country’s major shipping players, aware of the paramount importance of Greece’s leading money-making industry.

“We are here to solve problems, not to create new ones,” the government’s recently appointed economy minister also overseeing shipping, George Stathakis, said.

An economist who comes from a shipping family, Stathakis had met with shipping industry insiders before leftist Syriza came to power on January 25.

“There will be dialogue, discussion, and we will look for the best possible solution,” Stathakis said when he stepped in.

Minister of Economy, Infrastructure, Shipping and Tourism Giorgos Stathakis and Alternate Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura. Photo © GTP

Recently appointed Minister of Economy, Infrastructure, Shipping and Tourism Giorgos Stathakis and Alternate Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura. Photo © GTP

According to a feature in Maritime Executive citing Reuters, imposing taxes on shipping players, who have until now enjoyed generous tax allowances, would inevitably lead shipping companies which employ a large number of Greeks out of the country seeking favorable conditions elsewhere. It is said, that many already have contingency plans in place to relocate to Monaco or London.

“Greek shipowners have to be very competitive in the global scene. If the situation in Greece becomes uncompetitive, they can relocate along with their key employees,” Alexandros Argyros of Axia Ventures Group, told Reuters.

“They are not bound by their assets which are floating around the world and that makes it a lot easier than for any other businessman,” he said.

The shipping industry, together with tourism, is the leading driving force of the Greek economy, with Greece accounting for about 7 percent of national GDP, approximately 43 percent of the European fleet and 15 percent of the global total.

“In my discussions with people in high places, in business and politics, they assured me that the government has other interests to tackle such as debt forgiveness,” John Faraclas, a London-based shipping commentator and independent ship broker, told Reuters.

“The people who will lose if the government attacks Greek shipping in its entirety will be the seafarers and the people who work in the offices,” said Faraclas, who was an aide to a former Greek shipping minister.

The government is expected to present its overall policy during a vote of confidence this month.

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