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Caribbean Ship Registries In The Spotlight

by Amanda Banks, Tax-News.com, London

17 December 2002


According to a report in the Barbados Daily Nation, the recent oil spill off the Spanish coast has put the ship registry business in the Caribbean firmly in the spotlight.

The newspaper revealed that the environmental consequences of the sinking of the 26-year old oil tanker, Prestige, have left many Caribbean nations, including Barbados, the Bahamas, and St Vincent and the Grenadines feeling the economic pinch.

Although the process whereby ships avoid certain tax liabilities by registering in countries other than their own is perfectly legal, the European Union has threatened to blacklist some 60 ships registered in different offshore locations as a result of the Prestige disaster which, the Daily Nation observed, will put the countries in which they are registered under added international pressure.

Prestige, although owned by a Liberian company and chartered by a Swiss-based Russian oil trader, was flying the Bahamian flag when, on November 19, it sank 150 miles off Spain's north-west coast.

Although the Bahamas are thought to earn millions of dollars per year from registering foreign ships, the Daily Nation revealed that the threat to Barbados from the increased scrutiny is relatively small, as:

'Barbados earns about $100,000 annually from its ship registry but it is considered one of the small players in [the] international convenience flag business. Experts say Barbados has fewer than 100 ships on its registry.'


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