By A. Tsimplakis
The specter of restrictions and increased custom duties on imported marine equipment and spare parts as well as in the provision of maritime services to vessels in Chinese waters was cited this week by the Italy's ship registry (RINA), which referred to an unofficial translation of a circular issued by Chinese authorities, and purportedly sent to the country's port authorities.
Concerns immediately surfaced in Greece's maritime hub, with the Piraeus Chamber of Commerce & Industry calling for an intervention by the country's relevant shipping ministry, as well as the tabling of the issue during Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis' official visit to China next month.
According to reports, the circular - identified as (2019) 172 Management Regulations for Ship Maintenance and Testing Service Suppliers - lists restrictions on the supply of services by businesses, outside China, to vessels in Chinese waters, including a prohibition on the establishment of subsidiaries or local offices in the Far East economic powerhouse. Additionally, higher duties are reportedly foreseen for imported equipment and spare parts destined for vessels - regardless of their registry - in Chinese waters and ports.
The Greek-controlled shipping sector, the global leader in terms of number of vessels and transport capacity, stands to encounter obstacles in providing maritime services to thousands of vessels that annually reach China's shores.
The Piraeus chamber has already sent a letter to China's ambassador to Greece over the issue, referring to a significant problem that will affect companies doing business with maritime firms that service Greek-owned vessels in China, supplying everything from spare parts, equipment to repair crews.