The MMF and the UK Branch of the Malta Business Network successfully organised their “Showcasing Maritime Malta” networking event which was held at    the prestigious International Maritime Organization (IMO) Headquarters in London on 27 February.

The initiative succeeded at offering a unique opportunity for a delegation of 35 MMF members to network with London-based maritime professionals and practitioners and was addressed by the newly appointed Minister for Transport, Infrastructure, and Public Works of Malta, the Hon Dr Chris Bonett; expert keynote speaker Prof. Charles Debattista – a leading London-based Barrister, Arbitrator and Mediator; and the MMF Chairman, Mr Godwin Xerri with Mr. Martin Zahra, Chairman of MBN UK, moderating the proceedings.

In his address, Mr Xerri outlined the wide myriad of maritime services and activities offered in Malta which he said are best exemplified through the international recognition that Malta holds as a flag state, a financial hub and the quality of legal service in the maritime field.  He said that the providers of Maritime services in Malta are in general represented by the Malta Maritime Forum set up by industry for industry in 2015.  He said that it was the Forum’s mission to serve as a common platform to consult and to be consulted because it believed that only through a healthy consultative process can the Maltese Maritime industry thrive and retain its competitiveness globally. He added that the MMF also had a strong mission to promote maritime careers and vocational education with the support of its relevant members including the University of Malta, MCAST and Maritime MT.  Lastly, Mr Xerri said that the Forum was now committed to supporting the internationalisation of maritime business by supporting its members to promote their services abroad.  This was, of course, the main ambition behind this “Showcasing Maritime Malta” event held in London.

On his part, Prof Charles Debattista gave his purview of the role Malta played over the years in the maritime law world underlining how despite being a small island, it has long punched above its weight in terms of the contributions it has made to the resolution of shipping disputes.  He referred to the UN Convention for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) which was the result of Malta’s first foray on the international stage.  Dr Arvid Pardo proposed what he called a “Constitution for the Oceans” which would regard the high seas and their resources as the “common heritage of mankind”.  Prof Debattista said that the current issues in the Red Sea show that the High Seas are constantly replete with challenges and are  in constant need of dispute resolution.  He mentioned the creation of the International Maritime Law Institute, set up by the IMO in Malta before paying tribute to a line of maritime professionals hailing from Malta and who are highly regarded in international maritime circles for their contribution to the maritime sector at the global level.

Mr. Joseph Zammit Tabona, the Chairman of the MBN Foundation, extended a warm welcome to the gathering, he emphasised that the current challenges confronting the maritime industry have profound implications for trade, businesses, and the broader economy. The repercussions of sanctions and trade restrictions arising from ongoing conflicts not only hinder the timely delivery of goods but also contribute to increased operational costs, adversely affecting numerous members of the Malta Business Network.

He added, “It is crucial that we unite as a global community to address the current challenges on the maritime industry. Through fostering diplomatic dialogue, enhancing international cooperation, and advocating for the protection of maritime trade routes, we can work towards a more secure, stable, and sustainable future for the maritime sector. Let us envision a future where the seas continue to be pathways for prosperity rather than arenas of adversity.”

Karin Grech
Author: Karin Grech