At the end of last week, the first cargo ship reflagged to Estonia after the country’s new special tax regime entered into force. The tanker named Ristna has flown the Estonian national flag before but opted for the Latvian flag in May 2019 due to the tough competition in the shipping market. The decision to reflag back was made in the light of the special tax regime that came into force on 1 July this year. The exchange of flag took place on 30 October.
According to Captain Marek Rauk, Acting Director General of the Estonian Maritime Administration, the reflagging of the Ristna back to Estonia proves that we are on the right track, as several shipowners are again showing interest in the Estonian flag. The Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas said that the Estonian maritime sector is world class as we provide high quality maritime education, have a favourable taxation system and business-friendly environment, and with the “shipping package” we have created even more favourable conditions for enhancing the competitiveness of Estonian shipping.
The tanker Ristna was built in 1980; its overall length is 98 metres, GT is 2804, and its classification society is RINA. The crew consists of 14 members who come from Estonia, Latvia, Ukraine and Russia.
The vessel is owned by NT Marine AS, but the provider of the technical management service is Welton Enterprises OÜ. Welton headquarters are in Tallinn, with a subsidiary in Riga, where some of the personnel are also located. In addition to the Ristna, the company also operates five more tankers, which fly the flags of Cyprus, Lithuania and Latvia.
The objective of the package of legislative amendments that entered into force this summer is to bring big cargo vessels under the Estonian flag again. This package creates a favourable tax system for shipping companies, enhances the development of the onshore sector and provides social and health insurance for seafarers who are Estonian residents, which is something that many Estonian seafarers do not have today.
Ships of at least 500 GT that are engaged in maritime transport of goods or passengers are eligible for the new special tax regime. Also tugboats and dredgers qualify if their activities include maritime transport.