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Malta's ship register largest in Europe

For the first time in its maritime history, Malta has the largest ship register in Europe, Transport Minister Austin Gatt said this morning.

Addressing a press conference about the Malta Maritime Register, the minister said Malta was seventh in the world, increasing its tonnage by 16 per cent last year over 2010.

Malta's register was very diverse and listed all types of vessels including cruise liners and super yachts.

Some 300 super yachts were registered on Malta's register by last year when there was an increase of 19 per cent over 2010.

The minister said that competition is not about financial conditions but the level of service. Not every applicant vessel made it to Malta's register and there was a rigorous process which had to be followed.

The condition and the age of applicant vessels were a major factor in the determination of whether or not they would make it to the register.

The minister said the Maltese flag is a serious one and for years the country had been on the white list.

The maritime industry generated a lot of foreign currency - hotels were booked for crew changes and auditing and accountancy services are sought.

The employees were the biggest assets and people were on call 24/7, he said adding that the Transport Malta had a gross income of 12.5 million euros from the register.

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