Shipping tariffs increase seven
to 14 per cent, FOI expresses grave concern
- all sectors becoming increasingly vulnerable in a difficult
global market environment
The Federation of Industry yesterday expressed dire concern
over the euro tariff introduced by the seven members of the shipping
conference for Italy, Malta and Tunisia.
The tariff, which became effective on 15 November, has been used by
the conference lines as an occasion to implement an increase in sea-freight
rates between Malta and Italian ports such as Reggio Calabria, Catania
and Genova and for shipping of merchandise to and from Tunis and Marseilles,
the FOI said yesterday.
Commenting on the state of affairs, the FOI said yesterday, "The
Federation cannot but express its total disappointment that vital transport
links for shipping and receiving merchandise have been hit by tariff
increases ranging between seven and 14 per cent.
"The situation is all the more serious when this increase follows
another 10 per cent implemented two and half years ago. Maltas
industry a vital sector in our economy that generates the highest
value-added in the country is suffering from diminished competitiveness
and this is yet another serious blow that will continue to weaken industrys
The FOI added that discussions on the matter with Sea Malta resulted
in the understanding that local government-induced costs and international
compliance costs are the root cause of such an increase in tariffs.
"Locally, official registration fees of vessels were increased
substantially for no apparent reason and pilotage fees were increased
by 90 per cent. There were also new international compliance costs connected
with the implementation of the International Safety Management (ISM)
code and the new international ship and Port Facility Security Code
The FOI warned all stakeholders in the economy that industry is facing
severe competitiveness problems and as a result companies have repeatedly
registered a reduction in profits a situation that could not
be borne indefinitely.
The FOI comments, "It was therefore to be expected that industry
had to take drastic decisions, and over the past year there have been
a consequent number of closures of enterprises and a reduction of several
"There should be no illusions about industrys disappointing
performance being limited to the clothing industry. Enterprises in other
sectors that are usually considered to be strong are becoming increasingly
vulnerable in a difficult global market environment. Even the tourism
sector is suffering from lack of competitiveness and from decreased
"There is no time to lose to tackle business competitiveness on
all fronts, and government cannot be excused any further for its lack
of interest and action on the reform agenda for the economy. The pressure
of competitiveness should now be a matter of urgent national concern,"
the FOI warns in no uncertain terms.