Greeks poised for flight over tax change

Bernard Schulte ShipManagment chief executive Andreas Droussiotis.

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Analysts expect Greece to maintain the favourable tonnage tax regime because direct taxation would prompt companies relocate

GREEK shipowners will abandon Greece if the government imposes an unfavourable tax regime on them, according to Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement chief executive Andreas Droussiotis.

“I do not believe the government will proceed with [taxes targeting shipowners] because they know what will happen,” Mr Droussiotis said at a press conference to celebrate the company’s fifth year operating in Greece.

“If they impose tax, they will leave. Anything that means they are disadvantaged in terms of competing internationally will see them move, they have to, shipping is international.”

Greek shipping companies have to pay a tonnage tax but are exempt from income taxes on profits from operating Greece-registered vessels. Analysts expect Greece to maintain the favourable tax regime precisely because direct taxation would prompt companies relocate.

Despite public confidence amongst owners during the Posidonia week shows, several are understood to have instigated informal meetings with national officials outside Greece to explore other options.

Greece has well over 1,000 companies operating vessels and while shipping accounts for just over 1% of the country’s five million workforce, its economic influence is far higher. Foreign earnings from shipping were about €13.5bn ($16.4bn) last year, according to the central bank.

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