“Unless we invest, we will be cut out of traffic” / INTERVIEW

Gian Enzo Duci: “It is necessary to push digitalisation, as Germany and Belgium have done”.

“IN recent years, we have made important steps forward, but on the front of logistical efficiency, our country still has much to do if it wants to remain at the centre of major international traffic.”

According to Gian Enzo Duci, the president of Federagenti, the real challenge for companies operating in the transport sector, and not only the maritime sector, will be in computer networks.

The Italian maritime agents’ president explained, “Improving information systems is certainly the most important aspect, because it allows us to speed up the transmission of data, of information, and consequently to improve the circulation of goods according to new working methods that were completely new a few years ago.”

President, what is the situation in Italy compared with our European competitors?

“Some countries have moved earlier and better than we have, and have made logistical efficiency a real strength in order to attract traffic and companies, and to strengthen their economies. I am referring to Germany and Belgium, in particular, where the institutions have always offered maximum support to businesses and where there are certainly not all the bureaucratic delays to which we are unfortunately accustomed in our country.”

But what is happening in the maritime port sector?

“The large groups operating in the sector are trying to manage the entire flow of goods. They are no longer exclusively handling maritime traffic, but are also trying to control port terminals, and they now also handle the entire process for ground cargo. In short, they are trying to manage products from departure to arrival at the final destination.”

Are the institutions alone to blame for the lack of investment in Italy, or could private individuals do more?

“Let’s say that in our country there are more and more major foreign multinationals that most often try to save rather than spend money in order to optimise their resources. These international groups often behave differently abroad, where they provide private funds for improvements to the logistical system. As far as the public sector is concerned, as I said earlier, there has never been any sensitivity to these issues here. It is perhaps only now that we are beginning to understand how important it is to invest in this sector.”

Is Federagenti, as a national trade association, investing in the development of logistics?

We have, we are working on the development of the National Logistics Platform, and we are in dialogue with port authorities almost every day. We think about how to create added value, and believe that we are doing so, although there is not much we can do on our own.”

What are the future growth prospects for Italian maritime agents?

“The mergers and acquisitions that have characterised the world of shipping in container transport for the last two years will not end with 2017. The function of the large alliances is to optimise fleet utilisation, and in the container sector, which now seems to be attaining balance, the somewhat dangerous thing is that there has been a new wave of orders for very large ships.”

Will the year end with positive results?

“The bulk sector, liquid and dry bulk, seems to have reached the end of the decline which began since 2008,” continued Duci, “ The container sector is doing well according to the figures, although with ups and downs in freight rates, but overall, the quantity of goods this year grew by 4-5%, which is positive although not as good as the 7-8% of 2008.” Some figures for all: “In 2000, we had one tonne of goods transported in maritime transport per inhabitant of the world, or about 5.5 billion tonnes. We are now 6 billion people, and we have exceeded 10 billion tons, or almost 1.4 tons per person, 40% more. This last figure should certainly make us think about the situation in some depth, especially given the challenges that we will face in the coming years.”

Pressed for time?

Get the best news of the week in your inbox

Subscribe ››