Tag: Nations

December 2016 Flags of convenience

Flags of convenience


A flag of convenience is the flag of a vessel for which the actual property and control are located in a country other than that of the flag under which it is registered. For the owners of these vessels, the benefits are numerous,[1] including in the field of taxation, of security or labor law.

It is a phenomenon related to globalization. In 2015, they represented 71% of the total tonnage of the merchant navy. [][2] The world fleet operated under 152 pavilions. Three of these pavilions, Panama, Liberia and Marshall Islands accounted for 42.8% of the total capacity; either, 710 million tonnes (Mt) and 12 000 flags of some 50 000 vessels navigating the oceans. Panama dominates with 20.7% of world tonnage with[3] 343 Mt and 6 745 ships. Followed by Liberia with 1990 Mt and 2 996 ships and Marshall Islands with 168.6 Mt and 2 345 ships.[4]

None of those countries are among the major owners. The real and principal owners are Greece, Japan , China and Germany, which accounted in 2015 a capacity of 864 Mt and 16 752 vessels. Greece is largest owner with 308 Mt and 4 252 ships, mainly of bulk carriers and oil tankers. Japan comes in second with 242 Mt and 4135 Ships and China with 190 Mt and the 4720 ships.  [5]


This disproportion between the ship’s country of registration  and of countries owners is symptomatic of a market which is not efficient (Market Failure ). Flags of convenience and tax havens have no economic impact to added value of services, products or the development of markets.

It is a vicious circle, because the oligopolistic structure of the industry encourages imitation in order to protect market shares; the initiative of one will … Lire la suite