Minister of State for Transport, Mr Noel Ahern T.D. with speakers at the Marine Money Forum
Leading members of the shipping, financial and investment sectors gathered today (Tuesday 11th November) in Ireland at the 2nd Annual Marine Money Dublin Ship Finance and Investment Forum, to hear the views of number of leading expert economists on how the Irish economy and global shipping markets will perform in the near future.
Delegates heard how the Irish shipping sector has achieved an impressive level of growth in the last six years, creating a current investment portfolio of $3 billion across a range of ship finance institutions. In 2008 alone Irish indigenous companies and inward investors alike have already invested over $1 billion in new vessels.
Speaking at the event, Minister Noel Ahern T.D. Minister of State for Transport said that, “Ireland was the first European member state to take corrective action to stabilise its financial market . Apart from our efforts to stabilise the domestic financial sector, my colleague the Minister for Finance in his recent 2009 budget statement further underlined Ireland’s commitment to industry.”
The Minister also confirmed that the Irish corporate tax regime, the lowest in Europe, which includes the Irish tonnage tax regime, would remain unchanged.
The country has over 20 tonnage tax firms operating within its jurisdiction, comparing favourably with its EU neighbours. Its shipping finance sector is also competing favourably with its heavyweight colleagues in the UK and mainland Europe.
Mr. Glenn Murphy, Director of the Irish Maritime Development Office, which organised the event, commented: ‘There is no doubt that, given the downturn in global economic growth, international shipping companies will face difficult times in the coming months. Being able to present a jurisdiction offering service, stability and innovation to shipping and related firms will be the key to our continued growth.’
The Irish have quietly grown their ship finance portfolios over the past six years, following the trend towards global dominance in other big ticket transport financing markets, notably aviation. Ireland is now one of the top 15 global locations for ship financing and the Irish Stock Exchange (ISE) is seeking to expand its own interest in this market. The ISE has already amassed an impressive range of listings from a range of high profile shipping hedge funds including the Clarkson funds, to bond issues and the world’s first maritime securitisation led by BNP Paribas on behalf of CMA-CGM.
“In spite of the significant difficulties in the global financial markets, firms such as Bank of Ireland can still look back on a year that saw them recently winning the Lloyds Shipping Economist Debt Finance award,” said Glenn Murphy. “While the ship finance sector was initially driven by a low-tax low-cost environment, the economy is now trading on a commodity that seems far more valuable, particularly in these chaotic and uncertain times—stability. From the diversity of delegates attending the Ship Finance forum, it is clear that the Irish are committed to growing their shipping activity and see the difficulties in the current markets as a unique opportunity.”