Italy’s ports could still attract int’l investors in spite of pandemic

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Italy’s ports could still attract international investors in spite of the drop in maritime trade due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report released on Friday by the Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI), a Milan-based think tank.

“The first semester of the year — the one characterized by the impact of the lockdown — has seen the number of goods transiting through Italian ports contract by 12 percent in terms of tonnage,” the ISPI report said.

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“This data are in line with the contraction in maritime traffic…on a global level, stemming not only from COVID-19 but also from growing international trade tensions, especially between China and the United States,” the report added.

However, the ISPI report went on to say that Chinese, Dutch, German and Turkish entities are emerging as possible investors in Italian ports because Italy’s position at the heart of the Mediterranean makes it a hub for regional as well as global maritime traffic.

In order to become more competitive and attract international investors, Italy’s ports need to ramp up their “inter-modality” — an industry term that refers to a port’s connection to railway infrastructure, according to the ISPI analysts.

Indeed in March 2019, the Port System Authority of the Eastern Adriatic Sea, which includes the key port of Trieste in northeastern Italy, announced it signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the China Communications Construction Company (CCCC).

The MOU “formalized a key accord on the rail infrastructure in the port region of the Eastern Adriatic Sea” and was “part of (an) integrated plan to reinforce the rail infrastructure system in the area,” the Port System Authority of the Eastern Adriatic Sea said in a statement at the time.