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Editor in chief: Angelo Scorza
16/03/20 10:14

Shipowners warned that “Italy’s food supplies are at risk”

Assarmatori and Confitarma (together with Federagenti) warned: “Many colleagues reject transport agreements providing for calls at Italian ports”

“An increasing number of foreign shipowners is rejecting transport agreements providing for the unloading of goods in Italian ports, thus jeopardizing imports of raw materials. The sectors which might be affected soon include also the essential segments to ensure food supplies”.

The news, related to the spread of Coronavirus in Italy, is definitely one of the most important issues dealt with in the long letter sent to the Italian Government by the two shipping associations Confitarma and Assarmatori, represented by their presidents Mario Mattioli and Stefano Messina, together with Federagenti president Gian Enzo Duci.

In the letter sent to the Italian Ministers of Transports, of Foreign Affairs and of Health Paola De Micheli, Luigi Di Maio and Roberto Speranza respectively, they explained that “the shipping sector is very concerned about the serious COVID-19 emergency also for the impact that this situation is having and will have on the Italian socio-economic system. Problems concerning maritime transports are many and we need to find appropriate solutions to ensure ship operations and traffic regularity. We urge the Administrations involved to create a round table to examine and discuss about the sector, and we are ready to attend it and to provide it with our support”.

In an attachment, they provided a comprehensive list of all the problems that the shipping sector is facing. The most concerning issue is the risk of shortage of food supplies: “The transport services expected to call at Italian ports can decide to bypass Italy in order not to be prevented from calling at the ports of other Countries. In order not to frustrate the efforts made by shipowners to ensure continuity in passengers and good transports it is important that ports ensure an adequate level of all the necessary services”.

The three Presidents also referred to “disturbing news” from “third Countries and unfortunately also from EU Countries concerning the prohibition for ports to welcome ships that in the past 15 days called at Italian ports. Since our economy is mainly based on processing, the risk does not affect only shipping companies, rather the entire Country”.

Messina, Mattioli and Duci also emphasized the difficulties concerning the turnover of crews: “In many Nations Italian crews can no longer be replaced by Italian personnel because they forbid the entrance and transit of Italian seafarers. This might prevent the ships from continuing their operations because they are not able to comply with minimum safety requirements, with the consequent risk of cancellation of service supply agreements”.

As concerns seafarers, the letter focuses also on the expiration of their certifications and of IMO certificates as well as the impossibility for them to undergo health checks.

Finally, the letter dealt with passenger ships (ferries and cruises) and with the Motorways of the Sea: “Besides the serious economic repercussions due to the cancellation of bookings, the sector might also be affected by problems concerning the operation of ships ensuring territorial continuity. With regard to cruises, the situation is more tragic, with serious economic and reputational damages”.