“ACCORDING to the companies that use our ports, trade with Africa has been recording surprising growth, not only on the Mediterranean shores of the continent, but also in central Africa,” says the president of the Eastern Adriatic Port Authority, Zeno D’Agostino.
The Authority does not disclose specific traffic data which would indicate the magnitude of the Triestine trade with the African regions, at least not publicly. A product traditionally coming from Egypt is potatoes, but it is a niche market. In September, the Authority will participate in an official visit to Egypt, led by Mauro Coletta, manager of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, together with representatives of other Italian ports, such as Ravenna, Venice and Genoa, as well as as delegates of public and private entities. “But it is Venice, the port that has the greatest share of trade relations with Egypt” points out D’Agostino, who is also president of Assoporti. Trieste is focusing on another international event, a trade fair in China, also in September, which will present the tourism and port businesses of Friuli Venezia Giulia, led by the President of the Region, Massimiliano Fedriga. But even if the Far East remains the main target of Italian businesses, D’Agostino says he was surprised by the vitality of Central Africa, based on what was reported by the companies that use the port, in particular those of the timber industry. “I thought,” explains the president, “that the traffic in this sector and in this area mainly concerned the import of timber for the furniture industry. Instead, exports of the finished products, i.e. furniture, are growing. Exports of luxury products are strong thanks to constructions of new buildings and hotels in Africa.”
In short, the African economy is still invisible, but it’s growing. D’Agostino adds: “It’s a view that I also repeat as president of Assoporti: there’s so much talk of the Silk Road, but let’s not forget the potential of Italian ports, from Trieste and further to the South, who can benefit from trade with North Africa and the Middle East. It’s not just Turkey [ed. a very important market for the port of Trieste, especially in the Ro-Ro sector]”.
Meanwhile, the port of Trieste recorded an increase in overall activity for the first half of 2018. “The president of the port system Authority has every reason to be proud of the new rail figures: 4,816 trains operated in the port with an increase of 17.98% compared to the same period of 2017, “a result that confirms the international railway orientation of our port, as it is a record number on a national level, and the forecast for year-end is about 10 thousand trains.” The overall trend is also excellent. The first semester of this year shows a + 7.87%, compared to the same period of 2017, with 31,168,780 tonnes of goods handled. This meant the container sector hit 345,056 TEU with a double-digit increase of 15.30%. “Container traffic in Trieste,” states D’Agostino, “is shared between imports and exports, with exports doing slightly better. This is why we have very few empty containers being handled and we can create greater value for each container in transit. We manage to maintain this balance because our reference market is very wide, from Belgium to Hungary.”
Adding the movement of containers with semitrailers and swap bodies (expressed in TEU equivalents) during the first 6 months, it reached a quota of 704,655 TEU (+9.03%). The encouraging data of the ro-ro sector (155,623 units transited), equal to an increase of +3.97%, underline the good performance of the segment. The figures for various goods was also encouraging, with 8,872,820 tonnes, and a growth of +8.74%. There was an increase of +3.47% for liquid bulk cargoes (21,503,899 tonnes), while solid bulk cargo is up 1.84% at 792,061 tonnes.