In his inaugural speech at the Malta Maritime Forum’s Progress Meeting held at Sa Maison House, MMF’s chairperson, Mr Gowdin Xerri  expressed his gratitude and pride in assuming this esteemed position and acknowledged the contributions of his predecessors.

Former Chairman Judge Joseph Zammit McKeon, who recently took on the role of Parliamentary Ombudsman, was praised for his energetic leadership and invaluable wisdom during his tenure. The Forum expressed its gratitude to Judge Zammit McKeon and wished him success in his new position.

Mr. Xerri emphasised the importance of stakeholder engagement and building strong relationships with policymakers and regulators. He highlighted the positive meetings held with Minister Aaron Farrugia and Transport Malta CEO Jonathan Borg, as well as engagements with Michael Callus, Chairman of the Foundation for Transport. Additionally, efforts were made to foster relations with the Opposition, particularly the Hon Ivan Castillo, Shadow Minister for Maritime Affairs.

National Maritime Strategy Takes Priority

One of the top priorities identified by the new Chairman is the development and implementation of a National Maritime Strategy. Mr. Xerri emphasised the need for a comprehensive approach, involving consultation with all industry stakeholders to understand their challenges, aspirations, and achievements. The goal is to create an action plan with specific objectives and target dates, aligning Malta’s maritime industry with international best practices.

Advancements in Specialized Maritime Court

Encouraging progress was noted regarding the establishment of a Specialized Maritime Court. The Ministry for Justice is exploring the expansion of the Commercial Court’s jurisdiction to include maritime affairs, aviation, and intellectual property. While acknowledging the long-term nature of this goal, the Forum expressed optimism about the positive impact this development would have on the industry.

Dedicated Maritime Authority for Enhanced Efficiency

The establishment of a dedicated Maritime Authority remains a key objective for the Malta Maritime Forum. Mr. Xerri highlighted the importance of creating an effective and professional administration that operates like a commercial entity, driving results. The Forum commended Minister Farrugia’s commitment to ongoing communication and welcomed the endorsement of a dedicated Maritime Authority by the opposition.

Progress on Draft Ship Agency Regulations

The proposed regulations for ship agency operations have been well-received by the majority of industry players. These regulations aim to elevate the sector through professionalism, competence, governance principles, financial robustness, and organisational capacity. The Forum expressed a willingness to address concerns raised by a minority of stakeholders, seeking common ground to ensure the regulations benefit all industry participants.

Structured Consultation Mechanism Proposed

The Malta Maritime Forum proposed the establishment of a Maritime Advisory Committee to facilitate structured consultation on urgent matters, policies, and strategies. This mechanism aims to alleviate continuous requests for meetings with the Minister, offering a dedicated forum for constructive dialogue and collaboration. The Forum reaffirmed its commitment to providing meaningful contributions and workable solutions based on objective research and the experiences of industry leaders.

Embracing Challenges for a Resilient Maritime Industry

Mr. Xerri concluded his speech by emphasizing the need to embrace the challenges facing the maritime industry, such as competition, technological advancements, and evolving practices. He called for unity, teamwork, and a forward-looking approach to transform these challenges into opportunities for growth. The Chairman expressed his confidence in the support, hard work, and professionalism of the Forum’s members and highlighted their valuable contributions to shaping the industry’s future.

Author: MMF