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05/11/18 10:23

Mattioli and Boccia launched the 'General Confederation of Italian Sea Industry'

Confitarma President trusts in the Government's positive responses about the protection of the International Registry and the Ministry of the Sea

Mario Mattioli

Rome – According to Italian Shipowners' Confederation President Mario Mattioli, the fact that Confitarma's annual meeting was attended by the Italian Minister of Infrastructures and Transports Danilo Toninelli, unexpectedly joined by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini (as well as by Genoa mayor Marco Bucci, commemorating the Morandi bridge collapse victims), confirms the Government's concern for the Italian maritime cluster, which submitted three specific requests to the new executive: a Ministry of the Sea, or at least an administrative body devoted to the sector, significant ‘debureaucratization’ and protection of the current International Registry.

This is what emerged from Mattioli's speech, who announced also the forthcoming creation of the 'General Confederation of Italian Sea Industry': “We must provide the Italian maritime industry with the possibility to make its voice heard: port terminals, shipping, logistics, naval engineering, nautical and fishing sectors. In partnership with the other Industrial Confederations within our sector Assiterminal, Assologistica, Assonave, Ucina and Federpesca, Confitarma is ready to create the first industrial cluster of Confindustria's blue economy in order for it to become the point of reference for the future maritime and logistics strategy in Italy”.

We will follow the pattern of the Italian Federation of Transport Systems and Modes Federtrasporto, within Confindustria, which agreed with the shipowners' suggestion: “We will create the 'General Confederation of Italian Sea Industry' and we will develop “blue economy” in Italy, which is a large natural port enjoying a central position between Europe and the Mediterranean. In order to make progress, Italy needs infrastructures, it must open new shipyards, not shut them down, and it needs to develop significant growth policies”, Italian Industrialists Association President Vincenzo Boccia declared.

In the meantime, Confitarma is focusing on the absence of an adequate administrative interface: “The maritime cluster represents over 2% of the Italian GDP. Moreover, in 2017 60% of goods imported and 50% of goods exported by Italy were transported by sea”. However, as Mattioli explained, “such an important component of the Italian economy is governed by a single General Direction of the Ministry of Infrastructures and Transports”. Therefore, Confitarma asked for the creation of a specific administration, or of a Ministry of the Sea (although Mattioli did not expressly mention it in his speech).

As concerns the International Registry, which in 2018 will celebrate its 20th anniversary, the Confederation is determined to protect it, especially following the significant change advocated by the shipowner Vincenzo Onorato: “In 2017, the Registry allowed for a doubling of the Italian merchant fleet from 8.5 to 16.3 million tons, and it currently boasts 38,500 Italian or EU seafarers”. According to Confitarma's President, these figures “prove that the possibility to hire a small number of non-EU seamen guarantees both the competitiveness of the Italian fleet and the hiring of a large number of Italian and EU seamen”.

Therefore, any change of the International Registry aiming at reducing its advantages “would be counterproductive and in contrast with what is happening in Europe. Italian shipowners dealing with international or mixed traffics would register their ships in more competitive registries”.

Mattioli also pointed out that also this issue must be tackled by focusing on figures: “Someone said that there are 60,000 unemployed Italian seafarers, but these figures are groundless because there is no register of seafarers”. Besides, “this dispute about seafarers having to be Italian did not arise from the need to defend employment, rather from commercial struggles, which honestly seems quite wretched to me”, the Neapolitan shipowner added.

The third main focus concerned the regulatory simplification: “Confitarma created an ad hoc commission that prepared a series of zero-cost measures to allow Italian shipping to catch up with the most competitive maritime nations”.

For all these requests, Confitarma President is confident about a positive response on the Italian Government's part. As concerns the protection of the International Registry “I am trustful. Minister Toninelli – whose attendance to our meeting, together with Deputy Prime Minister Salvini, confirms the Italian Government's concern for the maritime sector – made a cost-benefit analysis: during its first 20 years of existence, the International Registry doubled both the Italian fleet and the employment of Italian and EU seamen”.

Confitarma had already asked for the creation of a Ministry of the Sea before the formation of the new executive, “but this need was recently pointed out by Confindustria President Vincenzo Boccia. Minister Toninelli already announced that the General Direction of the Ministry of Infrastructures and Transports will be strengthened, observing that Deputy Minister Edoardo Rixi is in charge of ports. Therefore, I am sure that the dialogue with the executive will be fruitful also as concerns this issue”.

Mattioli focused also on technological innovation, environmental sustainability and the renewal of the Labour Agreement for seafarers: “We have to reach an agreement with trade unions taking into account both the legitimate aspirations for stability, and the need to be flexible. Moreover, it is essential that we draw up a single contract for on-board and land-based personnel in order to avoid distortions”.

Upon renewal of the Italian Collective Labour Agreement, Assarmatori is on Confitarma's side. The  shipowners association headed by Stefano Messina “was included since it replaced Fedarlinea (which joined Assarmatori; ed.), which was the legitimate contractual party”.

Therefore, although as regards the agreement the dialogue is inevitably open with Assarmatori, Mattioli's opinion about the “new” shipowners association is clear: “I still do not understand why we have two associations and, above all, I do not understand why this association includes a large number of non-Italian flags. What's the point in having an association in Italy which, despite being supposed to protect Italian interests, mostly represents ships flying non-Italian flags?”, Mattioli concluded.

Francesco Bottino

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