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Old June 20th, 2005, 01:50 AM   #1
hkskyline
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Return of Belgian Flag Popular With Shipowners

Revived Belgian flag gives boost to shipowning
By Helen Hill in Amsterdam
17 June 2005
Lloyd's List

THE return of the Belgian flag has been a resounding success. But now the owners are back, what next?

Marc Nuytemans of the Royal Belgian Shipowners Association, the KBRV, said: “We did not think we would be in this position for at least another few years. It is difficult to keep track of all of the ships coming to the flag.”

At the last count the Belgian fleet now represents 7.5m dwt.

And certainly, although a study of the economic impact of the return of the flag is being carried out at the moment, there is strong evidence that it has led to a fresh stimulus in the wider maritime community.

The owners and the Antwerp Maritime Academy have worked together for some time in attracting youngsters to the industry and numbers are up from 255 to 417 in just a few years.

But Capt Nuytemans pointed to the example of agents that are now showing an interest in operating their own vessels.

“They are considering buying a coaster and operating a few routes themselves,” he said. “There has certainly been a new interest in shipowning.”

European state guidelines had been a great boost. There were a lot of registers, “but if you can find an efficient and proactive organisation in your own country so much the better”.

Although the Belgian fleet is known for large vessels such as very large crude carriers and bulk carriers, largely thanks to the CMB group companies Euronav and Exmar that were split off, there is interest from smaller companies.

“Belgian owners have taken the opportunity to be in their own country,” said Capt Nuytemans. “They have reflagged en masse.

“We have the VLCCs but we are also seeing smaller companies. It is great to see Belgians starting shipowning companies.”

There were many inquiries from outside Belgium as well.

But he stresses that, although the association would be keen to see perhaps another non-Belgian owner turn Belgian, it did not want to turn itself into a flag of convenience.

“We cannot compete with the likes of Britain,’ he says. “We do not want to be a flag of convenience lookalike.

“We offer a serious advantage as long as they are ‘real’ shipowners which want to create some value for the Belgian economy. They should not just be brass plate organisations.”

Capt Nuytemans pointed out that around 70% of added value is not generated by the fleet directly but by ancillary services.

One-and-a-half years on, Belgium has a very stable shipping environment and he wants to keep it that way.

“We need to be able to face the stakeholders in the maritime industry without any political mist,” he said.

The “new toy” syndrome where, after initial fascination, it was discarded, should not be allowed to happen.

“Our task is to make sure politicians understand that what they have in Belgium is worth keeping,” he added.
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Old July 10th, 2009, 09:09 PM   #2
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Belgian policy helps flag regain status
11 February 2009
Lloyd's List

THE Belgian flag has regained a position that properly reflects the importance of the country’s controlled and owned fleet worldwide, says new Royal Belgian Shipowners’ Association managing director Peter Verstuyft.

“This is thanks to the new Belgian shipping policy, supported by a very effective corporate taxation scheme that was introduced in 2004,” he said.

“On the wave of the rising European interest in the maritime industry, Belgium created a tonnage tax regime that is widely recognised as very competitive.”

The stability of the scheme is certainly a strong point. It is safeguarded by permanent consultation between the different governmental departments, mainly finance and maritime transport, and the RBSA.

Mr Verstuyft, a former executive board member of the Belgian gas tanker owner Exmar, took up his RBSA’s post last month. He succeeded Marc Nuytemens, who has been appointed chief executive of Exmar Shipmanagement.

He emphasised his belief in the advantages of the Belgian flag, in offering a combination of quality, reliability and cost effectiveness. He has first-hand knowledge: as a member of the RBSA board, chairing the fiscal committee, he was one of those who paved the way to the successful wave of reflagging into the Belgian register.

“So far it seems that the Belgian-flagged fleet is not too much affected by the worldwide economic turmoil, thanks to a good charter-coverage of rather young and modern vessels,” he said.

“For the near future, Belgium is determined to take an active stand in the debate on climate change and the role of the maritime industry in this.”

A report resulting from a study by the RBSA and the Flemish Institute for Technological Research will shortly be submitted to the Greenhouse Gas Working Group of the International Maritime Organization, said Mr Verstuyft.

“The main objective is to contribute to the practical interpretation of the CO₂ emission indexing included in the IMO Interim Guidelines.”
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Old July 11th, 2009, 05:18 AM   #3
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Stable tonnage tax regime boosts maritime sector
12 June 2009
Lloyd's List

SHIPPING policy, supported by an effective corporate taxation scheme, has led to a resurgence in Belgium’s maritime arena.

Peter Verstuyft, the former executive board member of gas tanker company Exmar, who recently took over at the helm of the Royal Belgian Shipowners’ Association, said the flag had regained a position that reflected the importance of the Belgian controlled and owned fleet worldwide since the shipping policy was introduced in 2004.

“On the wave of rising European interest for the maritime industry, Belgium created a tonnage tax regime widely recognised as competitive,” he said. “A strong point is the stability of the scheme, safeguarded by consultation between different governmental departments, mainly finance and maritime transport and the shipowners’ association.”

Mr Verstuyft confirmed his belief in the advantages of the Belgian flag, saying it offered a combination of quality, reliability and cost effectiveness. He said the fleet did not appear to have been badly affected by economic turmoil because it had good charter coverage, young and modern vessels.

The association was currently addressing a number of issues as Belgium was determined to take an active stand on the debate on climate change and the role played by the maritime industry, Mr Verstuyft said.

A paper proposing a fine-tuning methodology of the Energy Efficiency Operational Index had been submitted to the International Maritime Organization’s Greenhouse Gas Working Group following a joint study by the owners’ association and the Flemish Institute for Technological Research.

The main objective was to contribute to the practical interpretation and implementation of the CO2 emissions indexing, included in the IMO’s interim guidelines.

The association believed the IMO ship recycling convention was a major step forward as it could provide a balance between dismantling capacity and improving conditions in yards. And it was committed to promoting the revised recycling contract Demolishcon, after the adoption of the convention.

“Belgian owners already implement the Green Passport for new vessels and so support the new convention,” Mr Verstuyft said.

Belgium, he added, was also tackling the piracy problem off Somalia and was set to contribute to the European Union’s Atalanta mission by deploying the frigate Louise-Marie to the Gulf of Aden by the end of August.

The owners’ association and government were also in talks about making vessel protection detachments available, particularly to more vulnerable vessels including those with slower speeds and/or low freeboards.

In the wake of the hijack of Belgian-flagged Pompeï, the Council of Ministers had taken a stand but there had been no agreement as yet on issues including liability and costs.
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