Claim: Liberia Maritime is the second and best registry in the world.

Source: LNTV Liberia LIVE 

Verdict: Liberia Maritime Registry is the Second in the world, but not the best.

Full Text: “I have to be very fair, I inherited from  Dr. Kollie a very solid program. The maritime program was very strong, so I have been building upon what I met to make it stronger. So currently, our Registry, the Liberian Registry, is the second in the world and the best in the world. and when I took over Mr. President gave me the mandate to ensure that Liberia again becomes the number one registry in the world.  And I have been working hard to ensure that as a result of that, we are climbing and climbing and the Liberian flag on the ship is being flagged very high.”

The live interview attracted 242 reactions, 487 comments, 201 shares, and 7.2K viewers.

Verification: on 17th May 2023, The Stage Media received a request from the Daily Observer Newspaper, one of Liberia’s widely read newspapers.

The institution asked TSM to assist in fact-checking the truthfulness and accuracy of some of the claims made by Eugene Lenn Nagbe, commissioner general of the Liberia Maritime Authority when he appeared on ELBC Wednesday, May 17, 2023, to promote the agenda of President George Weah. We immediately commenced research on one of the claims he made and found that he was correct about Liberia’s Maritime Registry being the second in the world, but not the best registry in the world.

The Liberian Registry, established in 1948 by former U.S. Secretary of State Edward Stettinius, is recognized as one of the foremost open ship and corporate registries.  During the past 61 years, the country’s commitment to safe shipping has remained steadfast. The Liberian Registry is a sovereign maritime jurisdiction responsible for the registration, regulatory enforcement, and safety of ocean-going ships. The Registry establishes identification details for ships and records legally enforceable documents, such as mortgages and bills of sale.

The Registry is also responsible for the enforcement of maritime treaties, including Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS); Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL); and the Standards for Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW). The Ship Registry runs in parallel with the Liberian Corporate Registry, which performs the same functions as the corporate registration service of any other government.

It is established that Liberia is the second among the top ten largest flag states in the shipping industry as of April 2022. The Republic of Liberia has 4295 commercial ships operating under its flagship including 268 additional ships registered under this Flag of convenience making it the fastest-growing flag state for two consecutive years, 2019 and 2020. It achieved a 9.3% growth worth 188 million gross tons as per Lloyd’s List intelligence data.

Clarkson’s World Fleet Monitor showed that from December 2020, Liberia outran all the open registries and grew at a pace of 8.6%, evident in the shipping market as it attracted many shipowners from Greece, Japan, China, Singapore, and the United States. Hence, flag transfer tonnage accounted for 60% of its growth.

Liberia finishes off 2020 as the world’s fastest-growing flag State for the second year in a row. In late 2018 Liberia became the second-largest flag State in the world, and since then, has continued to lead the world in fleet growth for two straight years.

We find that the Panama Marine Authority is the world’s largest flag state. Panama is a small nation of  3 million people bordering the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Only one shipping company is operational in the country; however, it is the largest flag state in the world with 9596 vessels sailing under its flag. Panama’s strategic location amidst crucial maritime trade routes connecting the Pacific and Atlantic oceans through the Panama Canal allows it to have an eminent position in the world trade network.

Most commercial ships sailing under the Panamanian flag are owned by foreigners desiring to avoid the strict maritime trade regulations of their home countries. Since Panama has an open registry, the shipowners can register easily, avoid paying income tax, employ cheap labor, and earn high profits.

Panama has been ranked as the top flag state in the world in 2020 according to Lloyd’s List Intelligence data. It recorded a remarkable 4.4 % growth amounting to 235 million gross tonnes compared to 2019. Around 16 per cent of the global shipping fleet is sailing under its flagship, more than the combined fleets of the US and China.

Conclusion: While it is true that Liberia’s Maritime Registry is the second in the world and top performing, the Minister got his facts wrong when he said Liberia’s Maritime Registry is the “ BEST” in the world. We could not find any record or information to confirm the Minister’s claim that the Liberian Maritime Registry is the BEST in the world.

This story was produced with the Center for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID) support.


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