Nearly Tax-Free, Greek Shipping Industry Soars, Orders More

AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis.

ATHENS – Greek shipping, already the world’s biggest fleet, ordered another 58 new ships in the first half of the year even as they continue to largely escape paying taxes and got Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to back down on his vow to make them do so.

That’s more than twice the number of orders made in the same period in 2016, accoding to VesselsValue and ask they pay only a voluntary taxGreek-owned shipping companies made a total of 58 new ship orders in the first half of the year, which is more than twice the number of orders made in the same period last year, according to VesselsValue.

The data of the ship valuations specialists show that in January-June 2016 Greek shipowners ordered just 28 vessels, a big drop from the 72 orders made in the first half of 2015 but now it’s rebounding even as Greece’s economic agony continues more than seven years deep into a crisis.

On a global level orders in the year to end-June amounted to 245, down 3.5 percent from the 254 orders made a year earlier. The major increase in Greek orders is of great significance, as it occurred during a period when the international market was in decline, Kathimerini noted in a report on the developments.

Greek activity has restored Greek shipping to the top of shipbuilding orders with China far behind with only 40 new ships ordered.

Data also point to Greeks sticking exclusively with the two main categories of ships: Greek shippers ordered 42 tankers and 16 dry-bulk carriers. Notably in the last three years the 151 Greek orders have included 104 tankers, given the crisis in dry-bulkers.

Shipping is the country’s most important industry worth $9 billion in 2015, some 4% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP.) If related businesses are added, the figure jumps to $17 billion or 7.5% of GDP, employs about 192,000 people (4% of the workforce), and shipping receipts are about 1/3 of the nation’s trade deficit.

In 2015, the Greek Merchant Navy controlled the world’s largest merchant fleet, in terms of tonnage, with a total DWT of 334,649,089 tons and a fleet of 5,226 Greek-owned vessels, according to Lloyd’s List. Greece is also ranked in the top for all kinds of ships, including first for tankers and bulk carriers.