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The port of Trieste looks for alliances with inland ports / INTERVIEW

Trieste - President D’Agostino: “We need new temperature-controlled facilities”.

Trieste - The port of Trieste has one of the largest fruit terminals in Italy, it has a flourishing RO-RO ferry business, especially to and from Turkey, and it is the Italian port with the largest share of international traffic. These characteristics make it one of the most important ports in Italy in terms of handling fruit and vegetable products. Recently, the fruit terminal changed concession holders and it is now operated by the Samer Group. But in this sector the port has two other tricks up its sleeve for 2017: the free port and the positive image of “Made in Italy” food products. The president of the Port System Authority of the Eastern Adriatic Sea (which Trieste is part of), Zeno D’Agostino, went on to explain.

“The fruit terminal’s transfer to the new concession holder is a positive thing. The Samer Group has greater commercial capabilities, the [Turkish] UN-RO-RO Group owns a stake in Samer, it goes beyond our national borders and beyond the borders of the European Union,” D’Agostino explained.

In December 2016, the Ministry of Transport began procedures for the implementing decree for Trieste’s free port. How important is this proposal for you?
“The Made in Italy brand is one of the most important in the food sector. In the last year, we had a series of contacts to bring industrial initiatives here that are also linked to the existence of the free port. This tool offers two basic advantages. The first is the issue of customs. The second, for foreign operators, is the possibility of establishing a presence in Italy and the improvement that could bring to their image.”

Therefore is it an operation that is not only aimed at logistical activities in the port?
“The investments in the free port also concern industrial activities and not only logistics. We have had contacts since early 2016. The companies that are interested are mainly in the food sector. It was a surprise to me, I thought that the free port would have attracted other kinds of businesses. We learned that a free port linked to the European Union has not only disadvantages, but also advantages. The cost of labour is lower on other continents, but coming to Trieste means acquiring a brand, which comes from being located in Italy, and that really means something. This is the message that we want to send.”

What future initiatives do you predict for perishable products?
“There is a need for more temperature-controlled spaces. We don’t want them inside the port, where there is an intense rotation of goods and where for this reason both last year and this year we have razed and will continue to raze old warehouses. To secure spaces for storage, we have started up synergies with the Fernetti and Cervignano freight villages.”

Are you also interested in the industrial zone (EZIT) area, whose operating company was in danger of being liquidated?
“Yes, we will become a point of reference for EZIT, which was being liquidated. The regional law gives us the majority in EZIT. We shall see how the spaces are to be used. It is a matter of 100,000sqm of brown field, on which there are pre-existing facilities, and one million square metres of green field, land that has so far remained unused. Determining the use of this land is one of our goals for 2017. The land is not concentrated in one place, but rather distributed across several areas. Some of it is contiguous to the publicly owned port area and in any case almost all of it is adjacent to the docks. There are already significant companies present on the EZIT land, like the coffee company Illy, for example. These are precious areas, and as I said, in this case, as well, the perishables sector is one of those that has indicated the most interest.”

What catchment area is the port of Trieste aimed at?
“We are at the centre of a rich intermodal network that allows us to reach an area from Luxembourg to Budapest, including countries like Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Italy, too. These are important routes for fruit and vegetable products. Road haulage is important in this sector, but there is some competition. We are betting on rail transportation.”

Does the port reform and the creation of the Port System Authority offer any other opportunities?
“For the moment, Trieste is probably the only port the remains as it was before. We have not yet integrated with Monfalcone, although we will soon. Monfalcone is another area which we will think about in terms of available land, but not for fruit and vegetables as much as for goods like paper pulp, automobiles, and iron and steel.”

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