ERMANNO GIAMBERINI is the president of Accsea, Campania’s Couriers, Forwarders and Hauliers Association. According to Giamberini, trade with North Africa has been “one of the most important kinds of traffic for the port of Naples and, more in general, the port of Salerno, for years now.”
How important is trade with North Africa to the port of Naples?
“I would not just talk about the port of Naples; I would also include the docks of Salerno in this discussion. Both ports are in fact very important for the economic development of our region and constitute a unique system in which they are completely complementary, both in terms of their position and the range of services they provide. Our association, Accsea, represents the entire shipping community of Campania. Specifically, North Africa is a market that is already of great importance for our region, worth around 20 thousand TEU annually, with exports in 2018 having registered an increase of 7% compared to 2017. We also cannot neglect the rolling stock sector which plays an important role in the development of traffic, especially with Tunisia.”
Which North African countries trade the most with Naples?
“In line with Campania’s manufacturing excellence, the bulk of trade activities comes from the agri-food sector: exports of preserved and packaged food products, imports of fresh fruit and vegetables and some trade concerning chemical and technological products. The largest volumes are mainly to and from Libya, which acts as gateway for most of the Sub-Saharan area, Morocco and Egypt.”
How can trade relations between Naples and North Africa grow?
“In general terms, I think all parties involved in port activities should focus on efficiency: bottlenecks are often caused by delays in operations. Specifically talking about North African trade, I believe that one of the elements that could lead to further growth in volumes is, of course –as obvious as it may sound - greater political stability in the North African region, something that is also desired by many parties for other reasons. Libya itself, which is also currently one of the main destinations of Campania’s exports, is in fact a country troubled by deep internal divisions, the consequence of which is a climate of uncertainty mirrored in the dysfunctional operation of some Libyan ports.”
What does the sector of freight forwarders ask for when it comes to developing relations with African countries?
“It could be very useful to create a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) even if this is a more general point that involves all the traffic affecting our ports. If a SEZ were to be established in Naples, it is conceivable that the increase in products in terms of volumes and types of goods, will primarily affect those markets geographically closer to us to the extent that, probably, companies that will be located around the SEZ will pursue the same type of production. It must be said, however, that our sector, which doesn’t get the benefits of a SEZ for fear of running into an EU veto on “state aid”, which at the moment I really do not see happening, can only try to persuade manufacturing companies to push the state to let us have such an initiative so that they can benefit from the new traffic flows that will follow. We are carrying out these actions both as a specific trade association and through Confetra, which is the “common home” of all national logistics and transport associations.”
Is there any other news?
“On this subject still, I think it is important to underline that Campania is the first region in which, about a month ago, a regional Confetra was established with the aim of improving relations with other confederations and institutions. We look at this initiative with particular pride and consider it a sign of strong cohesion between the various sectors of our region. We intend to support the Port system Authority - which would have the task of managing the SEZ – with all the bureaucratic procedures that are still needed.”