SERVICES

Pitto: “Container reservations online are still a risk” / INTERVIEW

Genoese freight forwarders warn of immature technology.

Mediterranean ports are recovering market shares to those in Northern Europe. The credit of this situation ia above all of the great Spanish and North African transshipment ports, while in Italy the transhipment langues. Yet Italy has a position advantage that it could exploit to become the maritime port of the European Union. For this matter Spediporto, the association of Genoese shipping houses, will participate in the Transport Logistics fair in Munich, at the beginning of June: “We will intervene - explains Alessandro Pitto, president of Spediporto - to highlight the ports of southern Europe in an environment, that of the German fair, where the users of the North quays prevail. We want to keep a channel of dialogue open to explain that the port of Genoa has made progress in the field of services that today are comparable to those of Northern ports. All this while waiting for the Third Pass to be inaugurated and for the port to become really competitive over long distances.”

European elections are imminent. What do you expect from the next legislature of the Union?

“As Confetra, a confederation to which our category also adheres, we have drawn up a manifesto of requests to the candidates. An important discussion is that of extending the Ber exception, the exemption from European antitrust rules, to maritime companies, which expires in 2020. We are somewhat critical with the proposal to renew it as it is.”

Why?

“Shipowners are increasingly investment in logistics and on-shore activities: renewing the derogation would bring them an advantage. Having an advantage in their main activity on the part of the Antitrust allows shipowners to present themselves with bigger strength in our sector, which instead is super competitive. So we think that the derogation should not be renewed. Otherwise, protection must also be introduced in the other sectors of terminals, logistics and shipping, which today do not have the same privileges as maritime carriers. The companies already have such dimensions and bargaining power as to make them valid for investments on land.”

On the infrastructure front, what can Europe do?

“More than the European Union, it is Italy that must implement at least the infrastructures included in the European Ten-T networks. We are in favor of completing all the connections provided. On the other hand, it is desirable for Europe to make a united voice on the Chinese project of New Silk Road. If states relate to China individually, this can distort competition within the EU.”

Digital infrastructures are also increasingly important and there are those who expect that a container journey can be booked like today with air tickets. What do you think?

“Several experiments are underway with telematic tools, such as real-time quotes. We need to see how they will be realized.”

What are you worried about?

“There is a risk that further confusion will be brought about. Technological tools are there, but they could lead to a model of low-cost shipments.”

How?

“You can set the rates in real time based on the available spaces. It is a different model than negotiations for one, three or six months contracts. As with airplanes, freight becomes more or less convenient depending on the space still available. You risk complicating rather than simplifying because you add a variable. Should I set a monthly rent or wait? And this could depress freight rates even more, because at the last moment the carrier might need to fill a half-empty ship. This is why I say that we are likely to introduce a low-cost model. Shipowners, who have blamed shippers for years for low freight rates, must wonder about the dynamics that could arise. One thing is a private passenger on the plane, another person who has hundreds or thousands of transactions every year and who would be treated as one who carries only one container.”

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