Marina Arvanitakis

Marina Arvanitakis

Commercial Officer, UKTI

Part of Greek Blogyssey

13th December 2011 Athens, Greece

Greek-British maritime cooperation: A success story


ShippingShipping is a key activity for us in the Commercial section in the British Embassy in Athens. It is by far the healthiest and most dynamic sector of the Greek economy and a field where Greece and the UK have had a long history of successful cooperation. Bearing in mind that Greeks control the world’s largest merchant fleet, accounting for over 16% of the global carrying capacity, one can easily understand the span of maritime services and the level of expertise that are required by the industry. From financing, banking and brokerage, to insurance and legal services, Greek owners have traditionally looked and are continuing to turn to the City of London for their business.  It is a top priority for Maritime London and us at the Embassy to ensure that this relationship is reinforced further and that London remains the preeminent centre for the Greek maritime cluster.

In this context, we organised the first “Greek-British Shipping Forum” jointly with Maritime London and the support of the Baltic Exchange, at the British Ambassador’s Residence in Athens on 29 November 2011. Fourteen distinguished speakers from the UK, members of Maritime London, covered a range of specialist topics and exchanged views with over 100 senior representatives of the Greek shipping community. Owners, bankers, lawyers, brokers, insurers and P&I clubs were all present and attended panel discussions and presentations about refinancing/debt restructuring, environmental challenges, the legal and insurance aspects of piracy and Baltex, the new electronic trading platform set up by the Baltic Exchange.

Greek-British Shipping Forum 2011
Greek-British Shipping Forum 2011

Looking at some figures that were presented at the Forum, it is obvious why London is the global centre for the maritime & financial services : it remains the centre of marine insurance with 20% of the global market with Lloyds as the core, the UK is the largest centre for P&I insurance with 62% of the global market share in 2010; Baltic Exchange members are responsible for over half of the S&P market. London has always been a significant market for ship finance and in 2010, in spite of the recently experienced banking crisis and the entry of the Far East banks in this sector, still represent about 15% of the financing of the world newbuilding order book. English law continues to be the norm in the shipping industry as it is impartial, specialised and globally trusted by all the interests in the maritime sector (owners, charterers, builders, insurers).

Greek-British Shipping Forum 2011
Greek-British Shipping Forum 2011

The shipping business is growing fast in Asia, with new and ambitious shipping centers such as Singapore, Dubai and Shanghai developing with the assistance of their state administrations, whilst Hong Kong is still doing well, supported by Beijing. Notwithstanding this, the depth of experience, level of expertise, access to capital and the tradition of trust that are available in London are still keeping it at the first place and it is a major priority for the British government to take all necessary measures to ensure that London strengthens its dominant position in the financial and maritime world. As the Ambassador said in his opening speech: “We have a government from the PM down who fully understand the importance of trade for our prosperity and want to support it to attract business to Britain and to help it flourish”.

To this end, Doug Barrow, Chief Exec of Maritime London added: “The Greek/UK axis not only exists but is flourishing. I can assure you that the maritime community of the UK is working with our government to demonstrate that, in the words of our Prime Minister – Britain is open for business and may I add that it is particularly open for your business!”

This Forum was the latest in a series of events as part of our Shipping strategy. I now look forward to our next project, Posidonia, the largest international shipping exhibition taking place in Greece in the first week of June 2012. During this exciting week, Athens becomes the focal point of global shipping and UK companies play an active role in the business and social events. We will be there to provide our ongoing support and demonstrate the UK government’s determination to ensure that the City of London develops its competitive advantages further and continues not only to adapt to the fast evolving business world, but to always remain ahead of developments.

About Marina Arvanitakis

I hold a degree in Classical Studies, French Language and Literature from the Athens University National and Kapodistrian University. After three years of work experience in the travel industry, I…

I hold a degree in Classical Studies, French Language and Literature from the Athens University National and Kapodistrian University. After three years of work experience in the travel industry, I joined the British Embassy in Athens, where I worked for the Consular section. Since 1994, I work for the UK Trade & Investment team. As a Commercial Officer, I provide advice and support to UK companies interested in expanding their activities in the Greek market. I am responsible for a number of sectors of the economy, such as Shipping, Life Sciences, Environment, Mass Transport, Leisure & Tourism, Construction, Consumer Goods.