As of the 15th June 2012 the Cypriot House of Representatives approved and enforced the Protection of Cyprus Flag Ships from Acts of Piracy and other Unlawful Acts Law 77(I) 2012, hereinafter referred to as “the Law”, which complements the ISPS Code, implemented through the addition of Chapter XI-2 of SOLAS which Cyprus ratified in 1984.
The ISPS Code
The ISPS Code applies to any ship on international waters of 500GT or more and also ports serving such ships. The main objectives of the ISPS Code are:
- To detect security threats and implement security measures;
- To establish roles and responsibilities concerning maritime security for governments, local administrations, ship and port industries at the national and international level;
- To provide and promote security related information to concerned parties;
- To provide a methodology for security assessments so as to have in place plans and procedures to react to changing security levels;
The effect of the Law
The Law provides the requisite legal guidelines for Shipowners, Bareboat charterers and Ship-managers with regards to measures they need to implement for a passage through the High Risk Areas ( “HRA”), how they can engage the services of a Private Ship Security Company, (“PSSC”) for a transit through the HRA as well as the procedure that a PSSC needs to adhere to prior to acquiring a licence to provide such services on board Cyprus flagged vessels.
The Law also provides that only PSSCs who are certified to provide security related services on board Cyprus flagged vessels are allowed to embark security guards and weapons for such transits through the HRA. A complete, updated, list of the approved PSSC’s can be found online at the Cyprus Department of Merchant Shipping website at: http://www.mcw.gov.cy.
Applicable geographical area
It is worth noting that the Law has a global geographical application and each person on board the vessel is bound by the laws of Cyprus regardless of the fact that the vessel might be transiting on International waters. For ease of reference the First Schedule of the Law provides the coordinates and defines the High Risk Areas.
Obligations to inform upon entering a HRA
It is an obligation of the master to register with the Maritime Security Centre for the Horn of Africa (MSCHOA) and report to the United Kingdome Marine Trade Operations (UKMTO) to be monitored regarding any incidents during a transit through the HRA. This means that any event which might be construed as an unlawful act or attempted unlawful act needs to be transmitted for further investigation. The Law also allows the master and crew to arrest any person who boards or attempts to board the vessel to commit any unlawful act.
Obligations regarding services of PSSC and weapons
The engagement of a PSSCs is effected through with a written agreement between Shipowner/Charterer or Manager and the PSSC. (usually with a GUARDCON or amended form of it) The Master has the obligation to supervise the implementation of the agreement. The storage of firearms must be done in such a way as no other person on board has access apart from the PSSC when that is deemed necessary and when in the HRA.
Approval of a PSSC under Cyprus flag
This can be done for any PSSC which is incorporated under the laws of Cyprus or has a legal representative in Cyprus. It is a criminal offence for a PSSC to embark guards or weapons on board a Cyprus flagged vessel without being authorised to do so. If the PSSC is a company that has its registered office central administration or principal place of business in another country an authorised representative must be appointed in Cyprus. An authorised representative can be a citizen or a resident of Cyprus as per the Income Tax Laws of 2002 to Law (No.2) of 2011. This encapsulates both partnerships or companies incorporated under the laws of Cyprus provided they conduct business operations in Cyprus and employ permanent personnel in Cyprus. The authorised representative is only required when the Private Ship Security Company has its registered office, central administration or its principal place of business is in another country.
The growth in the Ship Management revenues to €464 million for the first half of 2015 demonstrates the enduring strength of this sector in Cyprus, corresponding to 5,4% of Cyprus’ GDP, as well as its global competiveness.
The simplicity in the procedures of the Cyprus Ship Registry, the strategic geographic location of the island, in combination with the world-class professional services available, and the Tonnage Tax system applicable, make Cyprus an ideal location for ship management companies.
Under the Tonnage Tax System a ship manager who opts to be taxed under the system and is accepted to be taxed as so, is subject to an annual tax calculated based on the net tonnage of the qualifying vessels managed by the said ship manager. The Cyprus TT system is the only one approved in the EU and is rightly considered the biggest advantage for ship management companies on the island. It is hence not without reason that 20% of the world’s ship management is taking place in Cyprus. The number of ship management companies registered under the tonnage tax system demonstrates a constant yearly increase, noting 37 ship management companies under the TT system in 2015.
Any Ship manager, who is Cyprus tax resident, who provides crew and/or technical ship management services to a qualifying ship engaged in a qualifying activity, may opt to be taxed under the TT system, provided the following criteria are satisfied:
- Maintenance of a fully fledged office in Cyprus;
- Employment of a sufficient in number and qualification personnel, at least 51% being EU/ EEA citizens;
- 2/3 of the management being carried out from EU/EEA territory;
- Compliance with certain international standards (maritime security, safety, training, certification of seafarers, environmental issues, on-board working conditions, full implementation of the Maritime Labour Convention) etc;
- At least 60% of the fleet managed, in terms of tonnage, comprising of Community ships (maintaining the said percentage for a period of three years, subject to further exceptions);
- Tonnage Tax calculation:
- Once opting to use the TT system, one must stay within the system for a period of ten years; if withdrawing prematurely, then the difference between the amount paid during the period the ship owner was under the TT system and the amount that would have been paid had it been subject to corporation tax during that period, will need to be paid.
|UNITS OF NET TONNAGE
||€TT PER 400 UNITS
- Profits from the provision of crew and/or technical ship management services to any qualifying ship
- Dividend paid directly or indirectly from the above
- Interest earned on funds used as working capital or for the payment of expenses arising related to the management of the ships, excluding interest on capital used for investments
Christodoulos G. Vassiliades & Co. LLC offers legal and administrative services to ship management companies wishing to bring their business to Cyprus from a – z ; from the searching, finding and setting up of an office, to the finding and hiring of the office personnel, to the application for the TT system; ensuring full compliance with the Cyprus legislation and regulations at all times.
 Meaning a sea going vessel (including vessels that transport humanitarian aid) has been certified in accordance with international principles and legislation of the flag country and that is registered in the register of a member country of the International Maritime Organization / the International Labour Organization.
 for ship managers, means services provided to a ship owner or bareboat charterer on the basis of a written agreement in relation to crew and/or technical management and/or both
On the 14th of July 2015, Iran and the Permanent Members of the UN Security Council and Germany reached a historic agreement. The sanctions imposed on Iran for its nuclear activities were lifted after the agreement of Iran to gradually limit such activities.
Iran, the economy of which suffered its greater blow in the years following 2012, especially after the foreign direct investments in the country reached zero, is now able to return to the global markets.
The omens of an early financial recovery are, prima facie, impressive, whilst the impact on the global economy is anything but negligible. It is said that Iran will be able to recover in its pre-2012 position in less than two years-time.
Iran is one of the main oil-producing countries. Its production capabilities reach 1 billion barrels per day, whilst its stockpiles reserves are said to reach 30-40 million barrels on the day immediately following the lift of the sanctions. This effectively means that Iran will cause a reduction in the oil prices by 14%, i.e. USD 10, therefore large oil importers such as EU and US will be in a more advantageous position by having the capability to increase their petrochemical-related productions.
As oil-exports in Iran are reinstated, the country’s economic orbit will also start functioning again. This, in addition to the USD 107 billion worth of frozen assets and the USD 15 billion of revenue expected to be produced in Iran in the first year of sanction lift, will allow Iran to boost the sectors which were most profitable prior to 2012. Therefore, it is expected that Iran will boost its automobile, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing and tourism, banking and other services sectors. It has also been suggested that Iran should increase its competitiveness in high-technologies industries and the telecommunications sector, in an effort to modernise the same.
Cyprus – Iran cooperation: the cooperation potentials
The lift of the sanctions in Iran as well as the industries constituting the pillars of Iran’s economy, create important prospects of economic prosperity both for Iran as well as its’ trading partners. Cyprus, being in the forefront of this recent historic development, concluded, on the 4th of August 2015, an important cooperation agreement with Iran, namely the double tax treaty agreement (“DTT”).
The DTT effectively provides for favorable taxation of, inter alia, royalties and dividends.
Royalties are taxed at a fixed rate of 6% whilst the provisions on dividends distinguish between companies the beneficial owner of which holds at least 25% of the issued and allotted capital of the company that pays the dividends, and other cases. In relation to the former, the withholding tax rate is 5% whilst in all other cases is 10%.
Regarding dividends, it is important to note that, currently neither Iran nor Cyprus imposes withholding tax on dividends (the treaty rates will only apply in the event where the relevant legislation of either or both countries imposes such tax).
The provisions of the DTT constitute important incentives for the promotion of cooperation between the two countries, especially if viewed in light of the provisions of the Cyprus IP Box Regime, considered below.
The Cyprus IP Box Regime- the time is now
Intellectual property rights have already been widely recognised as the most valuable asset of a business. The same was recognised in a flamboyant manner by the Cyprus authorities in 2012, when the IP Box Regime was introduced. The IP Box Regime applies to all intellectual property rights and allows Cyprus companies which are the owners of intellectual property rights to be 80% exempted off withholding tax applying on the exploitation and disposition of such intellectual property rights as well as make use of a five year amortization period in respect of the acquisition of such rights.
Cyprus elected to opt for an IP Box the purpose of which was to attract new investments. Therefore the same does not restrict its application to companies that have borne the research and development costs. Nonetheless, the IP Box regime will be gradually forced to extinction, pursuant to the OECD Nexus Approach policy. Pursuant to the same IP Boxes should turn towards the promotion of research and development and not towards investment attraction. Therefore, the final call for applicants wishing to exploit the advantages of the IP Box regime is the 30th of June 2016. This date is considered as the lock down date, since no further entrants will be accepted whilst current entrants will not be allowed to exploit any additional intellectual property rights. The IP Box regime, as it currently stands, will continue to apply to existing entrants only, until the 30th of June 2021.
Geographical Proximity: a leap into Europe
It is no secret that Cyprus’ geopolitical position, the same being in the Mediterranean Sea and the crossroads of three continents, i.e. Europe, Asia and Africa, is a pole of attraction for many businesses around the globe.
Similarly, the island is expected to attract Iranian businesses as well as businesses wishing to do business in Iran. Apart from the many legislative and fiscal advantages some of which have already been mentioned above; the island is also a Member of the European Union as from the 1st of May 2004. This, in addition to the fact that Cyprus is in the center of some of the most important trade partners of Iran, namely Britain, Turkey and Saudi Arabia as well as in good terms with countries such as China (currently the most important trading partner of Iran) and India are expected to boost the potentials of the cooperation between Cyprus and Iran.
The Intellectual Property Rights Aspect
Iran provides for immense opportunities in the field of intellectual property, the reason being that Iran’s economy is based on sectors such as the automobile, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing and service provisions. Considering that the majority of its economy depends on exports into, inter alia, Europe and the US, it may be argued that the need for community and international trademarks, patents and pharmaceutical product certificates, copyrights and trade secret protection, branding, marketing and product advertising as well as corporate restructuring and fiscal advise is expected to be in high demand in the near future. Cyprus, offering the advantages already mentioned herewith, is undeniably ideal both in terms of geographical positions as well as in terms of legislative framework.
The DTT between Cyprus and Iran triggered the unfolding of the Cyprus legislative framework, jurisdictional advantages and the ability of the same to assist in Iran’s reinstatement in the global markets.
As far as intellectual property rights are concerned, the industrial activity of Iran, being export-depended, and the European flair of Cyprus, in conjunction with the recent advantages introduced by the DTT as well as the IP Box regime prove that the cooperation potentials between Iran and Cyprus are more than the wishful thinking of two Economy ministers.
The increasing public discourse, including political and diplomatic mobility, as to energy exploitation in the Mediterranean and subsequent energy distribution, also includes the construction of the necessary energy infrastructure projects. The proximity of Cyprus to the recently discovered sources of energy in the Mediterranean, renders Cyprus a potential candidate for the construction of energy infrastructure projects. At the same time Cyprus is also an international shipping centre, involved in financing the construction of vessels. However, the significant length and cost of such projects (energy infrastructure and shipping finance) automatically raise the question of their smooth and viable financing. Recently adopted European Union Law in the form of a Regulation, undertakes to provide a financing tool for such and other projects of long-term nature by introducing the ‘European Long-Term Investment Funds’. This way, a legal framework tailored to the needs of long-term investments is established, which interacts with the current local investment funds framework, adds value to Cyprus’ physical proximity to possible long-term projects and allows for Paneuropean fundraising possibilities from both professional and retail investors. ‘European Long-Term Investment Funds’ are also eligible applicants for financing from the European Investment Bank, whereby the relevant application is assessed by priority.
The present memo undertakes to provide a brief overview of this new legal framework and of its interaction with the investment funds legal framework currently applicable in Cyprus. The aim is to facilitate, through Cyprus, the financing of long-term projects in Cyprus, the European Union and in third countries.
Keeping up with the changes.
What will the EU’s Collecting Management of Copyright and Multi-Territorial Licensing Directive mean for collecting societies in the EU?
The internet has changed the shape of the entire world. In some areas, such as communications,telecommunications and advertising,the impact was imminently discernible. In other
areas, however, a more conservative path has been taken. Nonetheless, the change is irresistible, and it has found collecting societies.
Collecting societies became an indispensable intermediary for rights holders in the music industry and users of such rights. Their core task was to protect the interests of rights holders so that users could not exploit them without providing for some consideration.
Their function includes three main obligations: licensing, monitoring, and ensuring payment of royalties by users and their distribution.
The Cyprus Private Aircraft Leasing Scheme:
Cyprus is now the most attractive jurisdiction with reduced VAT rate to as low as 4,37%
The new guidelines issued by the Cypriot VAT authorities with regards to the registration of private aircraft, make Cyprus the most attractive jurisdiction in the European Union (EU) in this area, reducing the effective VAT rate for private aircraft registration to as low as 4,37%, through the use of the “Private Aircraft Leasing Scheme”.