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“Lower rates on trains to capture freight from Switzerland”

The single customs window, the map of services, integration between Genoa and Savona, the creation of a Special Economic Zone in Genoa: Alessandro Pitto, President of Spediporto, speaks about the Ligurian visits to Interlaken and Lugano

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Genoa - The single customs window, the map of services, integration between Genoa and Savona, the creation of a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Genoa: Spediporto, the association of freight forwarding houses at the port of Genoa, whose president is Alessandro Pitto, has a considerable agenda - and is also coming to terms with the future of the freight forwarding profession itself given new challenges like the digital commerce platforms.

How is the port of Genoa doing, and how are the companies that operate in it doing?

“The trend is positive, and the statistics on port traffic are up. The trend matches what our associated companies are reporting, as well.”

What do you consider to be the priorities?

“We are working with the Port System Authority and the Region of Liguria on the single customs window, which we want to become a reality.”

What is holding it back?

“Some offices have staffing problems, but we need the single customs window right away, to have a single procedure and definite timeframes.”

Recently you introduced the port of Genoa to the Swiss operators. What do they think of these problems?

“We had two meetings in Switzerland in the last two months, in Interlaken in February with the Swiss shippers’ council, and in Lugano in March, together with the Port System Authority. Also a Swiss delegation will be coming to Genoa in May, and is interested in seeing the progress on the Third Tunnel and meeting representatives of the governmental institutions and economic operators, freight forwarders, and shippers. Today the ports of Genoa and Savona have little traffic with Switzerland because they are penalised by the rail links. We must have a competitive offering for rail services. The problem is freight rates, which are certainly not very competitive at the moment. But the quality of services is also an issue. The services to Northern Europe are working. To convince the operators to change it will not be enough to offer €50 in savings. We need to create a relationship based on reliability and continuity in time. They are interested, because the ports of the North have had problems with congestion, and with the incident in Rastatt, they are looking for an alternative. This is why they want the Ceneri Base Tunnel completed. They don’t want to be cut off from the South, which could complement the role that the Northern European ports are playing, although of course not take their place. But we must work to build this relationship with a great deal of humility.”

What are they requesting?

“Services, transparency, traceability of goods, and definite timeframes. Together with all of Genoa’s and Savona’s port community we need to come up with a package that guarantees all of these things.”

Last year, Spediporto proposed the idea of a Special Economic Zone (SEZ). How far along is this plan?

“The parliament approved a law on the SEZ, but it only applies to Southern Italy. Subsequently, the Special Logistical Zones (SLZ) were also added to the order through an amendment to the Budget Law. The Special Logistical ones are a light version of the SEZs, and differ in that they do not include any tax advantages. The zone that we want to create in Genoa could be of this type. We are collecting proposals from the recent Council Assemblies of the City of Genoa, including the free zone, Genoa’s candidacy for a SEZ or SLZ and the map of port services.”

Several years ago the map of services didn’t have the support of the other port operators. Do you think that the moment has come to propose it again?

“We have started to talk about it with the Port System Authority. The proposal was made ten years ago, and we would like to bring it up to date in terms of technology. Computer systems could be used to monitor the processes and provide timing objectives. The port of Barcelona gives a certification to companies that have their operations monitored. If everyone complies with the timeframes, it is an advantage for all. When it was proposed ten years ago, the port had major problems in terms of timeframes and waiting times. The map was not well received among the slower operators. Now there is a better climate, and the Authority is committing itself to moving forward with this issue.”

How is the integration between Genoa and Savona proceeding?

“It will be important to have the same procedures, but it is a long process - even today procedures within the port of Genoa differ between Voltri and San Benigno. And then the E-port system will have to be extended to cover Savona.”

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