Shipping Policy

For centuries, the fates of global trade and international maritime transport have been intertwined. While globalization increases the demand for the transport of goods by sea, seaborne trade more fully enables globalization.

Shipping has been a global industry since the age of sail, but trade routes were not open and accessible to all flags until the end of colonialism. The gradual decline of various forms of protectionism, such as flag discrimination, unilateral, bilateral or regional cargo reservation, promoted free access to markets, which allowed trade, and by extension maritime transport, to thrive.

Free trade and trade liberalization hinge upon the adherence and consistent application of World Trade Organization (WTO) and Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) rules, especially those pertaining to maritime transport, as well as on the principle of free and fair competition. Protectionist measures – an attractive but ultimately ineffective solution – should be avoided as they risk triggering a retaliatory trade war and inevitably delay a return to healthy economies.

In the absence of a truly international trade agreement at the level of the WTO, the EU is pursuing an ambitious agenda for the conclusion of bilateral trade agreements. The Union of Greek Shipowners (UGS) supports the European Commission’s trade policy of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and encourages the latter to intensify bilateral or multilateral negotiations with third countries, with the objective of lowering barriers to trade and securing EU shipowners access to overseas markets.

With regard to the transatlantic trade relationship, a constructive trade dialogue between the EU and the USA to meet future geopolitical challenges is indispensable. Both trade partners should reaffirm their commitment to uphold free and open markets for maritime transport and their support for a transparent and non-discriminatory bilateral trading system.

The principles of free trade should be upheld and safeguarded. The European Commission’s Free Trade Agreements policy agenda should be further pursued.