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A.C.C.– Antwerpen- 25 november 2010 The Belgian Shipping Policy Peter Verstuyft Managing Director Royal Belgian Shipowners’ Association

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Presentation on theme: "A.C.C.– Antwerpen- 25 november 2010 The Belgian Shipping Policy Peter Verstuyft Managing Director Royal Belgian Shipowners’ Association"— Presentation transcript:

1 A.C.C.– Antwerpen- 25 november 2010 The Belgian Shipping Policy Peter Verstuyft Managing Director Royal Belgian Shipowners’ Association Tel: +32/

2 2 Background Since the 1980’s, the shipping industry in Europe is under acute threat by : * Over-regulation, as this industry is poorly known. Overreactions by government decision-makers to accidents and the pressure of an ill-informed public opinion contribute in no small way to this state of affairs. *The implications of European regulations on wages and social security. *A prohibitive tax-environment

3 3 Result : Flagging out Worldwide, 2 out of 3 merchant vessels is registered under a foreign flag Percentage of European controlled fleet, flying a foreign flag in 1996 : Greece60,5 UK75,1 Germany66,0 Sweden85,6 Denmark42,5 Italy36,3 France44,4 Netherlands37,9 Belgium96,5 Spain80,8

4 4 Belgian merchant fleet flagged out to Luxemburg : Flagging-out protocol : Creation of a Luxembourg register for Belgian vessels : Opening up of the Luxembourg register to all nationalities

5 5 Strategic conclusions for Europe European shipowners control about 41% of the world fleet. If the EU succeeds in bringing back all those vessels under European flags, Europe would become the world’s number one maritime block. –Enabling the EU to largely determine international maritime policy. –Preserving employment on board / on shore –Preserving know-how and development of maritime skills –Enhancing safety

6 6 ensuring free market access to safe and environment-friendly vessels, preferably registered in Member States and with European crew. Keeping economic activities in the EU  criterion of measurable benefit Aim Means Provide a normative framework based on a level- playing field with respect to wage costs and social legislation. Competition between Member States must not be allowed to be unfair. “Orientations on State Aid” 1997

7 7 Maximum State Aids allowed in Europe : –Zero-rated social charges (i.e. exemption) for employers and employees –Zero-rated withholding tax on occupational income (i.e. exemption) Applicable to vessels under European flags (meeting the economic link requirement) Measures for the wage cost section “Orientations on State Aid” 1997

8 8 Maximum admissible State Aid in the EU:Maximum admissible State Aid in the EU: –Zero-rated (i.e. exemption from) corporate tax Applicable to vessels under EU flag (meeting the economic link requirement) Measures for the tax legislation section Conditional upon: transparentaccounting EU State Aid Guidelines 1997

9 A structural solution => The LUX register Reduction of social security and pension funding costs for seafarers Exemption of personal income tax for seafarers Law of 2/8/2002 Stages of Belgian shipping policy Law of 27/12/2004 RD 7/5/2003

10 10 The importance of a suitable shipping policy for government Preserving and attracting economic activity and employment Ensuring shipping safety by dealing with ‘substandard shipping’ Keeping control and developing a positive image for Belgium Strategic & technological importance Shipping as a springboard for shipping-related industries Losing a shipping cluster and the associated know-how is an irreversible process

11 11 Importance of a suitable shipping policy to shipowners A bona fide national register is commercially quantifiable Constant input of highly qualified personnel Preserving maritime know-how Avoiding non transparant tax structures

12 Employee’s contribution Actual cost Net Income Income tax Employers’ contribution ==> exempt ==> exempt for EU registered vessels ==> partially exempt (amount superior to the pension level) Cost of crewmembers on board of ships flying the Belgian flag Strategic achievements WAGE COSTS 12

13 13 Corporate tax: a two-sided approach The corporate tax for ocean-going shipping is subject to a two- sided approach: -Tonnage tax (lump-sum profit determination based on tonnage) -Conventional tax, i.e. Accelerated depreciation Exemption from tax on capital gains conditional upon reinvestment Investment deduction amounting to 30% of the purchase price Programme law of 2/8/2002 (O.J. of 29/08/2002 ed. 2) art 115 – art 127 Programme law of 27/12/2004 (O.J. of 31/12/2004 ed. 2) art 321 – art 331 Strategic achievements

14 CORPORTATE TAXATION Tonnage tax: an alternative for conventional corporate tax What is tonnage tax? -The yearly corporate tax of the shipowner is based on the net tonnages of the vessels he actually operates (V/C & T/C included up to a ratio of 1:3) and not based on the actual results of his shipping activities -Shipowners opting for tonnage tax do so for 10 year periods -Tonnage tax is flag/register blind The profit of the taxable period resulting from ocean shipping is assessed per vessel, per day and per 100 net tons on the basis of the amount mentionned in the table below: For the bracket up to 1000 net tonsEUR 1,- For the bracket between 1000 and net tonsEUR 0,60 For the bracket between and net tonsEUR 0,40 For the bracket between and net tonsEUR 0,20 For the bracket over net tonsEUR 0,05 14

15 Strategic achievements Tonnage Tax: managed from Belgium Purpose: avoiding brass plate companies Law: Art 115§2.2°: “that is managed to a considerable extent in Belgium” Elucidation of the Law: management as in art 115§2.2° refers to the main responsibility for the activities, among others, non-exhaustively listed below: –making agreements relating to the ship –taking care of the ship’s supplies –taking care of the ship’s maintenance –entering into insurance contracts –doing the bookkeeping –meeting administrative formalities –appointing Masters “considerable extent” refers tot the fact that the taxpayer carries out most activities or that he has them carried out The RBSA has developed a self assesment matrix around 3 aspects of management (strategic & commercial, technical and crewing) with 36 items –For belgian registered & flagged vessels: majority of 2 of the 3 aspects + majority of the 36 items –For non-Belgian registered vessels: majority of all 3 aspects + majority of the 36 items Caveat: matrix serves as a guide only and the final decision lies with the IRS. When in doubt the Owner can always apply for a “ruling”. 15

16 Strategic achievements FLAGSTATE GOVERNANCE “Flag State Contact Group” ensures permanent consultation between the authorities and the shipowners Common commitment, supported by “risk based flag state response”-tool 16

17 Did it work ? Greece60,8(17,4)68,8(15,33) UK75,1(3,11)63,9(2,80) Germany66,0(2,66)83,4(9,50)[CYPRUS] Sweden85,6(2,15)76,6(0,67)[NO TT] Denmark42,5(1,85)62,2(2,86)[DIS] Italy34,3(1,77)34,9(1,79) France44,4(1,14)54,5(0,59)[FIS] Netherlands37,9(0,85)49,8(0,76) Belgium96,5(0,63)53,3(1,22) Spain80,8(0,50)64,9(0,40) 2009 – ranking UNCTAD 17 Percentage of controlled fleet, flying a foreign flag (Percentage of total world fleet)

18 18

19 Evolution of the student population at the Maritime Academy 19

20 Total Economic Impact Shipping cluster: development of total added value Total added value created by the cluster grew from € 930 million in 2001 to slightly over € 1.3 billion in 2004, reaching almost € 2.0 billion in

21 The New Belgian Shipping Policy Development of the merchant fleet controlled from Belgium Source: UNCTAD Review of Maritime Transport, (based on data from Lloyd’s Register / Fairplay) Since the introduction of the new policy vessels have been returning to the Belgian flag. Moreover the total fleet controlled from Belgium has continued to grow. 21

22 Royal Belgian Shipowners’ Association 22

23 23 Impact of Belgium’s new shipping policy Maintenance of decision-making power in Belgium -The new policy has generated a new drive -The risk of key players leaving Belgium has been reduced to a minimum for the next few years (almost comprehensive re-flagging as well as new players) A fleet under the Belgian flag -The tonnage tax has brought security and significant re-flagging / flagging-in -The flag has become competitive within Europe (with Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK) -Training has received a new impetus (with the largest body of students in 25 years at the maritime academy); enrolment has grown by 50% since 2001 Economic impact -Employment (total/preservation in Belgium) -Added value doubled in 5 years time

24 24 Belgium is not Europe’s Liberia Aim: Structural growth of the Belgian merchant marine Developing new shipping activities Rationale: Creating (direct & indirect) added value as well as (direct & indirect) jobs


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