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Cyprus' first-ever shipping minister is setting her sights high.Natasa Pilides, who heads it as the newly appointed shipping deputy minister to the president, says she has big plans.There has been an increase in the number of shipping and maritime-related companies opening offices in Cyprus in recent years, many attracted by a tonnage tax system that allows vessel owners, managers and charterers to pay tax on the carrying capacity of a ship rather than on the income it generates, Pilides said.Ship-management companies based in Cyprus include the recently merged Columbia Marlow, one of the world's largest, Bernhard Schulte Ship management Cyprus Ltd. and Interorient Navigation Co Ltd.The more than 150 island-based companies control a merchant fleet of 2,300 vessels with gross tonnage of 50 million employing around 4,500 personnel and 55,000 seafarers, according to the Cyprus Investment Promotion Agency.
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