Greek Shipping Misses Opportunity to Capitalize on Maersk’s Exit from Russia – Greek City Times


Danish shipping giant Maersk has decided to exit Russia altogether and sell its Russian assets due to sanctions imposed on the country for its military operation against Ukraine. On March 21, Maersk informed its customers that it was stopping all new bookings on all its services (sea, air and land transport) to and from Russia. Denmark’s exit from Russia could have been an opportunity for Greek shipping tycoons and companies, however, participation in sanctions means that the Greek economy is only suffering.

Every third container in Russia belongs to Maersk. The company owns 31% of Russian port operator Global Ports, which operates six terminals in Russia. As Maersk will leave the Russian market by the end of April 2022, shipments of goods to and from the country will be severely affected, creating a huge void in the market that Greek shipping companies could take advantage of.

Rather than take advantage of this market gap, the CEO of Greek shipping company Angelicoussis Group said in late March that her company would avoid lifting Russian cargo.

“There is great hesitation among shipowners to ship Russian oil or products. There is self-sanction,” said Maria Angelicoussis. “European refineries need to source oil from further afield.”

His fears seemed justified, however, when European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on April 5 that a fifth round of sanctions would increase financial pressure on Russia, which was “waging a cruel and ruthless war” against the EU. Ukraine. If the EU approves of banning all Russian-operated vessels from its ports under its fifth round of sanctions, which would also reduce coal imports and extend sanctions to the oil sector, one can only assume that Moscow will return the reciprocal sanction measures. .

With more than 4,500 vessels, according to KPMG, Greece ranks first in the world for commercial vessel ownership, showing a 28% increase in owned capacity over the past five years. The average size of Greek-owned vessels is almost double, indicating that Greek shipowners mainly operate in high-volume markets.

For their part, Lloyd’s List Information the data revealed that Greek-owned vessels made more than 8,000 calls at Black Sea ports in 2020 and controlled around 20% of commercial capacity to and from the region. 26% of the region’s dry bulk trade could be attributed to Greek shipowners. Greek-owned tankers – around 820 tanker calls – accounted for around 35% of crude oil tonnage entering and leaving Black Sea ports during the year. The data also revealed that nearly 700 Greek-owned tanker calls in the Black Sea in 2020 accounted for about 22.5% of committed product capacity in the region.

George Xiradakis, CEO of business consultancy firm XRTC, based in Athens’ port district of Piraeus, said that although investments in new shipyards with new technologies allow Greek shipping to have an advantage comparatively, “geopolitical disruptions and trade disputes weigh heavily on global trade”. , affecting some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes and generally the entire supply chain.

If Moscow retaliated against EU sanctions measures, not only would Greek shipping suffer and lose its own place in the Russian market, but it would lose an opportunity to expand its presence in the country – all the more that Russia is unlikely to be isolated. of Europe in the long term.

Greek financial journalist Minas Tsamopoulos said that “the war clearly affects imports and mainly exports of Greek companies, to and from the ports of the Black Sea, which is an important maritime trade route. 70 Greek companies operate in Russia and about 45 in Ukraine.

He also added that “it is estimated that tourist arrivals from the war zone will be ‘lost’ with the question of whether tourist flows from the United States and the rest of the world, which are directed towards South Eastern European countries, and of course Greece, will be affected.

This is all the more alarming given that the Greek economy, which is still reeling from a decade-long financial crisis, is entirely dependent on shipping and tourism. Greece’s National Tourism Organization had hoped 500,000 Russians would visit Greece in 2022, but all bookings have been frozen as airfare and energy prices continue to rise.

Fraport Greece Managing Director Alexander Zinell admitted that such a scenario could limit Greece’s competitiveness as a destination, especially given the proximity of the war in Ukraine and Greece’s listing as ” hostile country” by Moscow for supplying arms to kyiv.

In this way, Greece’s participation in the sanctions against Russia will not only mean that it will lose its share of maritime transport to Russia, but that it will not profit from the exit of Maersk. Moreover, hundreds of thousands of Russian tourists are unlikely to travel to Greece and will instead go to Turkey.

This effectively means that Greece is complicating its financial recovery by participating in sanctions against Russia, especially since the country has long failed to convince its EU allies to also sanction Turkey for its daily violations. of Greek airspace and its periodic violations of its maritime space.

Indeed, the Greek government serves the interests of the West instead of the citizens, without even at least obtaining sanctions and other guarantees against Turkey, actively participating in economic aggression, not taking advantage of the loopholes of the market which have been created, and encourage Russians to spend their holidays in Turkey rather than in Greece.

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