Malta’s maritime sector can only move forward if the country delineates a “clear vision and strategy” that allows operators to market themselves and the jurisdiction strongly, according to the Malta Maritime Forum.

In a press release outlining the main themes emerging from its recent annual general assembly, the MMF said it agrees on the need for better long-term strategic planning and the upholding of high governance and operating standards in the face of huge international challenges and competition.

Addressing members during the meeting, chairman Godwin Xerri outlined the key policy priorities for the Malta Maritime Forum:

  1. The development of a National Maritime Strategy
  2. The setting up of a maritime court
  3. The detachment of Maritime Malta from Transport Malta
  4. The enactment of the necessary regulations to lay down standards for shipping agents

Mr Xerri expressed hope that the administrative framework to develop a national maritime strategy will be put in place without further unnecessary delay.

He also announced that Government is working and consulting with the MMF to create a public-private work group that would be responsible to undertake the necessary consultations across the whole industry before articulating the strategy to guide economic operators over the next decade or beyond.

“The Forum will strive to be at the forefront of this activity and to create mechanisms to cover all sectors of this industry,” said Mr Xerri, “because we know that attracting new investment and business lines entails strong marketing and a clear vision and strategy as to where we need to get”.

With regards to the setting up of a dedicated maritime authority and the promulgation of the Ship Agency Regulations, Mr Xerri recognised that these were challenging goals which were not helped by sudden changes at the Ministerial level and the continuous changes within the authority.

He said that the MMF shall continue to elaborate on the benefits of these objectives with the new incumbents, because it believes that through constructive dialogue “the right formula can be found to attain these strategic intents.”

The Forum chairman said that “the Maltese maritime industry is part of an international industry in which we have to compete, innovate and focus. Those of us who are directly involved know what strong competitive challenges we face continuously from other jurisdictions. Our ports are facing challenges from neighbouring non-EU ports which are not constrained by regulations that impede growth.

“Once again, I reiterate the importance of a clear vision and a realistic strategy, especially because our position is strengthened by the presence of prime stakeholders who, notwithstanding our geographical limitations, stand out exceptionally even at international levels. We are endowed with a surrounding sea that holds huge potential for blue economy activities that can be developed without harming the environment. We have the highest of professional educational entities that are willing and able to train our future generation to take this industry to levels higher than what we have achieved so far,” concluded the MMF Chairman.

The MMF annual general assembly, which took place on 17th May, was further addressed by the Forum CEO, Kevin J. Borg, and two guest speakers – Kenneth Farrugia, CEO of Bank of Valletta and Col Mark Mallia, CEO of Transport Malta.

The latter declared his commitment to work closely with the maritime community and said that “Transport Malta’s ongoing maritime projects are significantly enhancing our infrastructure, solidifying Malta’s status as a key leader in the maritime industry.”

On his part, Mr Kenneth Farrugia outlined the latest initiatives undertaken by Bank of Valletta to facilitate business and enhance banking relationships with maritime clients. He praised the Malta Maritime Forum for its work and for organising a a full-day training seminar for the bank’s executives last February with the aim of enhancing mutual understanding between the two highly regulated industries. He underlined the importance of maritime operators embracing ESG practices for both competitiveness and regulatory purposes especially those which engage with gatekeepers at an international stage.

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