Gianluigi Aponte, founder and chairman of the Geneva-based MSC group, has made clear he is not enamoured with China as a business partner and he is not afraid about the potential of the Belt and Road Initiative. His greatest fear at the moment are the possible consequences of an oil price hike in the near future. That’s what emerged from a public interview held this week during a conference organised by the Confcommercio-Conftrasporto association in Cernobbio, Italy.
“China is arrogant and to make business with them is not an easy task,” Aponte said. He came across as a strong supporter of the US, despite the tariffs introduced by President Donald Trump and the subsequent trade war with China, which Aponte predicted could see some container tonnage switch from the Pacific basin to transatlantic routes.
Underlining his loyalty to Washington, Aponte said: “When the US decided to reintroduce measures against Iran we immediately closed every business connection with Tehran. We had no doubts. In case this decision was taken from Russia we would have not accepted it as we did.”
As for the Belt and Road Initiative launched by the People’s Republic of China Aponte commented: “The so-called New Silk Road is more ideological than practical. I do not expect it will have a major impact.”
Aponte is much more worried about the risk of a “dramatic inflation” due to the oil price upturn currently ongoing. “If this trend goes on the economic upturn will be killed,” the seasoned shipowner said.
As for the sulphur cup to sea transport emissions coming into force from January 1 2020, MSC’s founder confirmed that they are going to be passing costs onto clients. “This is an extra cost we cannot sustain and we will pass it on to the final customers from 2020. In 2019 there will be bunker surcharges if the fuel cost rises up, otherwise we can manage it,” he said.