Comprehensive Maritime Transport Policy


The Department of Transport (the DOT) recently approved the Comprehensive Maritime Transport Policy (the CMTP) which was published in the Government Gazette on 12 June 2017. The CMTP has been a long time in the making following the promulgation of the Government’s White Paper on National Transport Policy in 1996. The CMTP now serves as South Africa's policy on maritime transport affairs.

The central aim of the CMTP is to facilitate growth, development and transformation of South Africa’s maritime transport sector in support of socio-economic development whilst contributing to international trade.

The golden thread throughout the CMTP is the clear intention of the DOT to align its strategy and approach with the national development planning directives, to achieve employment creation and the facilitation of regional trade. In this regard the CMPT recognises that the DOT is not the only actor with a role in the maritime sector and that some of the proposed interventions will require further collaboration with other relevant departments to achieve specific policy outputs.

The main strategic objectives of the CMTP are:

  • To develop and grow South Africa to be an International Maritime Centre in Africa serving its maritime transport customers in particular and world trade in general.
  • To contribute to Government's efforts of ensuring the competitiveness of South Africa's international trade by providing customer focused maritime transport infrastructure and services through, inter alia, an integrated maritime supply chain, infrastructure and systems.
  • To promote local entrepreneurship in the shipping industry, along with marine manufacturing and related services, whilst promoting the increase in the number of ships under the South African flag registry through incentives.
  • To promote marine transport, manufacturing and related services.
  • To provide guidance to stakeholders and customers in the sector with regard to institutional arrangements, governance and regulatory interventions, whilst ensuring effective and efficient coordination across Government on matters of mutual interest in relation to the growth of the sector.
  • To provide a clear framework around which operators, customers, investors and funders can freely participate in the maritime transport market so as to improve growth, performance and the competitiveness of the sector as a whole.

The CMTP aims to achieve these objectives by, inter alia, implementing financing mechanisms and tax incentives, and exploring the creation of a public/private permanent structure whose function will be the strategic development of the maritime transport sector. What appears to be most striking is the proposed cabotage regulatory framework as part of Government's incentives to entice ship owners onto the South African ships register. By doing so, Government will seek to increase not only the number of South African owned and flagged ships, but also the volume of cargo and people they carry, between local ports and between local and foreign ports. South African-flagged vessels will be given "preferential treatment" in relation to carriage of goods and their use of local port facilities.

Click here to read the full CMTP