The Italian shipowners’ association, Assarmatori, chaired by Stefano Messina, has officially asked the Italian government to open the international register to other EU-flagged ships and make possible also for shipping companies based abroad to obtain benefits by employing Italian seafarers. This is the main short-term goals set by the association, which is backed by MSC, Ignazio Messina & C, Italia Marittima, Finaval, Pillarstone and some other ro-ro and ro-pax companies such as Onorato Armatori and Grandi Navi Veloci.
“Renewing the measures for maritime transport under Italy’s international registry scheme, the European Commission asked the country to extend the granted benefits also to the ships under the other EU-flags,” says Messina. “In Italy the only way today for increasing job opportunities aboard for the seafarers are the vessels controlled by shipowners based in other European countries.”
On the opposite side is the rival shipowners’ association Confitarma headed by Mario Mattioli, which has asked the government to limit the cost and tax reductions only to shipping companies based in Italy. Brussels has set an end February deadline to reach a final solution.
Assarmatori’s Messina is also asking for a sort of Marhsall Plan for new cargo and passenger ships due to be built and deployed on routes to and from Italy. More specifically Italy is considering to dedicate roughly €2bn to tonnage renewal in the next few years; financial resources dedicated to new green ships deployed both on short-sea and deep-sea routes.
“It might be also a good idea for the government to build a dozen new ships in a row based on the same project,” Messina, who also heads up Ignazio Messina & C, suggests.
On the hugely changed Italian shipowning scene, Messina tells Maritime CEO: “There will still be space for family-model companies active in the shipping market worldwide. They have an excellent know how. The point though is the capital: business is becoming more and more capital intensive and in the recent past we have experienced a prolonged negative cycle which heavily impacted on financial results.”
Messina points out that in the past the positive cycles of shipping were needed to balance and overcome the negative ones.
“The problem is that this time the negative cycle was too long,” the Italian laments.