Ports: Northern Europe leads, Italy hangs on as south grows


Northern ports such as Antwerp, Hamburg and Rotterdam are market leaders with a 62% share of international commercial shipping in Europe, but Italy is the short sea shipping leader in the Mediterranean with a 37% share, according to the first annual report by the Naples-based Permanent Observatory on Maritime Economy issued this week in Naples.

The Observatory is run by the Institute for Mediterranean Study and Research (SRM), which is financed by Banco di Napoli, an affiliate of the Intesa San Paolo banking group.

”We must not forget that we are a maritime country. History and the economy say so”, Banco di Napoli President Maurizio Barracco said at the report presentation. ”Some 19% of international maritime traffic passes through the Mediterranean, and the sector has been growing constantly since 2005 in spite of Europe’s economic crisis and political instability on the southern shore. This confirms the fact that the Mediterranean is more and more central to the global economy”.

One third of Italy’s foreign trade, or 230 billion euros’ worth, takes place via the sea, with some 10 million containers transiting through Italian ports over the past year, against 10.5 million containers before the 2008 economic downturn.

Also between 2013 and 2014, a total of 447 million tonnes of goods transited through Italian ports, placing the Bel Paese third behind Holland and the UK in terms of absolute volume, according to the report.

Italy therefore still plays a key role in spite of northern European market dominance, and its southern ports handle 48% of total maritime trade and 63% of maritime imports and exports while 40% of all maritime-related companies, or 2,700 businesses, are based there. ”North European and southern shore ports have invested heavily in infrastructural improvement, carving out important positions”, warned SRM President Paolo Scudieri. ”It is high time Italy realized its southern sector has a natural logistical vocation, which could be exploited far better to the benefit of the whole country”.

The report also pointed out that just 6.3% of goods transiting through the Suez Canal make it to Italy due to habitual delays and uncertainties on the length of the hauls. ”This translates into losses both in terms of local business earnings and in terms of benefits for the State”, the report said. Northern European ports maintain a strong hold on international container traffic in spite of the fact that they lost 4% between 2008 and 2013, while Mediterranean ports grew from 35% to 39% thanks to development of eastern Mediterranean ports and new infrastructure in north African countries. The report also highlighted Turkey’s 11.7% growth in the first quarter of 2014 over the same period last year, as well as the ports of Tanger Med, Valencia (with a 17% market share), Algeciras (17%) and Piraeus port (12%).

Source from : ANSAmed