August 2021

Maritime-focused electoral manifesto presented to Malta’s political leaders

August 2nd, 2021|

In this article CEO Kevin J Borg elaborates on a maritime centred electoral manifesto that was presented to the leaders of the major political parties in July in advance of the 2022 General Election.  True to its mission to serve as a maritime cluster and a common platform for the maritime industry for the purposes of influencing national maritime policy and facilitating communication between industry players and the country’s policymakers, the document aims to give due importance to the maritime industry, in particular those who work and invest in it. The document includes 10 concrete recommendations, amongst them the proposals for the new incoming administration to appoint a minister solely responsible for maritime affairs and the blue economy, the re-establishment of a national entity solely responsible for the maritime industry, the establishment of a dedicated maritime court and the formulation of a national maritime transport policy. The full article can be accessed here. It first appeared in the Times of Malta.

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April 2021

The Effect of Covid-19 on the Maltese Shipping Industry

April 1st, 2021|

In this article,  MMF member Dr Adrian Attard of Fenech & Fenech explains the restrictive measures implemented by the authorities at the early stages of the pandemic and the effects on the local shipping industry. This article appeared in the ILO Shipping & Transport news and can be accessed here.

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March 2021

Accolades to the Malta Flag of Ship Registration

March 22nd, 2021|

In this article, Board Member Godwin Xerri sheds light on Malta’s admirable performance in the Shipping Industry State Performance Table 2020/2021 published by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS). The ICS is the global trade association for ship owners and ship operators representing over 80% of the world merchant fleet with 100,000 vessels. The comparative analysis of all the flags of ship registration is published annually to give ship owners an independent and professional assessment of how the flags have discharged their duties to the international shipping industry and how they have operated to safeguard life at sea and the environment. Mr Xerri explains how the fact that the Malta Flag passes all the tests gives all Maltese reason to be proud of and which factors have led to the success story of this national asset. The full article with the details can be accessed here.

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MMF playing pivotal role in Maritime Industry’s success

March 1st, 2021|

This article was contributed by Kevin J Borg, a few weeks into taking over the MMF CEO position.  in this piece, he draws attention to the importance of the maritime sector for the Maltese industry which continued to serve the country even though the most challenging times of the pandemic.  Mr Borg argues that too often maritime services are generally taken for granted and people tend to overlook the true strategic importance of the maritime operators that are represented by the MMF.  As a direct representative of the main players in the national maritime transport industry, the Forum pledges for a consolidated common approach of all the stakeholders to face future challenges and offers itself as a point of reference to contribute its vision and expertise to the development of a national maritime policy and invites the policymakers to more active consulting with the Forum. The article first appeared in the Times of Malta and can be accessed on the following link.

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November 2020

The maritime sector’s potential towards economic growth

November 16th, 2020|

In this article, Board Member Godwin Xerri outlines the main conclusions of a study commissioned by the Malta Maritime Forum about the economic contribution of the maritime industry to the country in terms of GDP, employment and productivity. With the professional economic analysis of empirical facts, the study is the first of its kind and aims to serve both policymakers and the public to appreciate the importance of the maritime sector. While the study projects a positive economic growth for the sector gaps are highlighted that should warrant the full attention of the policymakers. To this extent, the study does not limit itself to statistical analysis but puts forward recommendations by way of a proposal for a national framework for the maritime sector in Malta. This study was performed by Dr Gordon Cordina of E-Cubed Consultancy. The article first appeared in the Times of Malta and is accessible on the following link.

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October 2020

Voice of Malta’s Flagbearers

October 20th, 2020|

MMV Vice-Chairman, Lino Vassallo, provides an insight into the history and the raison d’être of the Malta International Shipowners Association (MISA), formerly the Malta International Shipping Council, which was established in 2004 as a voluntary NGO when the growth of the Maltese Ship Register to one of the largest of the world called for a national association international in nature.  MISA’s main aim is to foster and protect its members’ interests while promoting the interests of Malta’s international industry and furthering the reputation of the Malta flag with the vision of sustainable green shipping industry.  The Association which is affiliated with the Forum currently focuses on sustainability issues as well as on the plight of seafarers and ship operations due to delayed crew changes. The article which first appeared in the Times of Malta is accessible on the following link.

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February 2019

A Holistic plan for Maritime Malta

February 6th, 2019|

Maritime Malta is one of the country’s prime assets. What we lack by way of natural resources is amply compensated for by our surrounding seas.

The sea is our source of living, our ‘hinterland’, our means of communication with the outside world. The sea does not isolate us – rather it is our bridge to the rest of the world.

Quoting from a recent feature penned by Professor Oliver Friggieri in The Sunday Times of Malta, ‘Towards a definition of an ultra-minor nation’: “A diminutive island which is equally a city and a nation, a geographical dot and a formidable fortress of history, standing midway between two continents, belonging to the south of Europe and so close to North Africa, looking very far ahead from herself”.

This, in my opinion, is the definition of maritime Malta because it was from the sea that our forefathers arrived on this land and back to the sea our capabilities reach out to earn a living, create livelihoods, devise entrepreneurship and create wealth.

Our maritime industry is made up of a composite of a multitude – in Maltese terms – of small and medium-sized commercial entities each one competing for its share of the maritime resources to deliver a service, create wealth and by doing so generate an economic activity. There is no doubt that maritime Malta is a main contributor to our GDP, notwithstanding its low profile and at times, prejudiced negative PR.

Malta has to be proud of its maritime achievements because considering the limited geographical size and population, it has made incredible successes which much bigger nations try to emulate. The capability to turn an arid island into a major international maritime hub is a feather in our cap – thanks to the foresight of our predecessors. The hubbing concept is manifest in today’s trans-shipment industry (containers, conventional cargo, petroleum products, cruise passengers, offshore oil industry – some of the leading examples). Hubbing attracts vessels to call at Malta but hubbing on itself would not survive without infrastructure and support services.

Our infrastructure – harbours, quays, terminals, berths, water depth – plays an essential role to attract shipping lines to call at Malta because this infrastructure impinges directly on the smooth operation for a vessel to enter port, berth and turnaround. Considering the capital intensiveness of this industry, a vessel’s time in port is literally measured by the minute and the success of a hub relies heavily, if not exclusively, on the efficient turnaround of ships.

Shipping is dynamic – the only constant is change – and all the time experimenting with new systems and strategies. Unless maritime Malta is an intrinsic part of this movement it becomes anachronistic and stuck in its past.

This is where we feel that a holistic approach to planning is required. Given the dynamics of this industry, where ships are becoming bigger, we have to keep developing our maritime infrastructure, in an environmental-friendly manner, to remain relevant to the international maritime industry. If we look at the investment made by Malta Freeport Terminals over the years (over €250 million since October 2004) we have a template that can be emulated.

Without such investment Malta Freeport would not be able to handle the largest container vessels (20,000TEU capacity) that are plying the seas today.

Grand Harbour is a different story. It cries out for a vision and action. The investment made in Grand Harbour over the years has been pitiful and it is with grave concern to note that up to the last budget presented by government in October, there were no funds voted for infrastructural development in Grand Harbour. If I have missed the point, I stand to be corrected.

The holistic approach that is required entails an in-depth consultative process with all the stakeholders. This should lead to the identification of the strategic direction to be taken followed by an action plan that is monitored and kept on track. If we were able to do it on the development of the road infrastructure, there is no reason why we cannot do it on the ports infrastructure.

The reality, however, and unfortunately, is different. Take Deep Water Quay (DWQ) as an example – we, the stakeholders have lost track when the works started and when they are supposed to be completed. What we do know is that in the meantime the opportunities to berth ships on DWQ are passing us by, and that the works undertaken to date have failed to address the endemic problem of not providing sufficient quay strength to withstand pressure from quay cranes.

We do understand that at present there is yet another study being undertaken regarding the regeneration of Grand Harbour. We wish to appeal to the respective authorities to consult with the stakeholders to avoid having a study which makes interesting reading but lacks in practicality.

The plan for maritime Malta must necessarily address environmental considerations, safety requirements, the exigencies of the vessels and related activities, the demands being made and the potential that can be obtained from the blue economy and the adaptation of IT to assist in better processing of information. Certain work practices which might have been relevant five decades ago – such as working time during summer – are gate stoppers in today’s environment and yet they are not being addressed.

Looking towards the future, maritime Malta needs vision, planning, resolve and action. The endemic fault in our planning model for maritime Malta has been and still is the lack of a holistic approach. There are so many competing interests in this industry that it takes real effort for the policymaker to override the pressures of the various interests and develop a holistic plan which ensures Malta’s leading role as a maritime hub. The removal and perpetuation of maritime Malta from a standalone, focused, ministerial portfolio and the amalgamation of same within Transport Malta is a fundamental mistake which epitomises the policymakers’ lack of understanding and appreciation of the contribution of this industry.

Fortunately I cannot be accused of political bias when making such a statement because this decision was introduced by one administration and retained by another political administration – both are at fault and misguided.

The focus required to plan strategically for maritime Malta entails constant engagement, active awareness of the developments in the international maritime industry, political courage to take decisions and an ongoing consultative process with the industry players.

The consultative process is one of the objectives for which the Malta Maritime Forum was set up.

One must not lose sight of the positive developments that maritime Malta has managed to achieve, but we cannot for a moment relax and assume the winning formula of the past is a guarantee of our future success. Ships of larger sizes need to be accommodated in our harbours, environmental considerations need sustainable solutions, work practices have to be brought in line with present and future exigencies, standards must rise and enforcement of rules and regulations brought to play to ensure that quality of service remains our hallmark. These are but some elements that we wish to see in the planning for maritime Malta of tomorrow.


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January 2018

Malta’s Maritime Vocation

January 18th, 2018|

Malta – the leading Global Maritime Centre. An island at the crossroads of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Malta – strategically located at the centre of the Mediterranean Sea just six nautical miles off the vital Gibraltar and Suez Canal routes.

Throughout its chequered history dating back millennia, Malta has always been an important hub for both merchant as well as naval shipping.

Its natural harbours were a safe and very sought-after haven, often eyed by military and merchant superpowers as they sought the Mediterranean as a base for their far-reaching influences.

Today, Malta is still honouring its vocation as a maritime hub, providing a wide variety of services, logistics and facilities to the maritime industry and beyond.

Homeport ‘Valletta’ ; The largest in Europe and the sixth largest in the world in terms of tonnage, the Malta flag has developed a solid reputation boasting a very strong legal and regulatory platform.

Malta is also a hub for yacht registration under the Maltese flag. This registration is open to Maltese, as well as EU and non-EU nationals. Yachts and super yachts can avail themselves of a range of services including eight yacht marinas, support services, berthing facilities as well as a superyacht repair facility.

Malta is also renowned for its ship repair industry that currently serves two hundred commercial vessels per year. The facilities, can accommodate ships up to VLCC size and offer a full range of services, including maintenance, damage repairs and conversion work.

Through the Malta Freeport Terminals, Malta also offers state of the art transhipment facilities fully geared to handle two 18,000 TEU vessels simultaneously. One of the major advantages of the Malta Freeport Terminals is the global links by regular liner services with 130 ports worldwide, 62 of which are in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.

Malta’s Grand Harbour is one of the most scenic in the world, and is the home of a vibrant cruise liner industry. Valletta Cruise Port currently handles over 300 cruise liners and registers 600,000 passengers each year. The Cruise Port is well adapted both for homeport as well as turnaround services with fast and efficient airport to seaport transfers. Valletta Cruise Port was named Best Terminal Operator 2015 by Cruise Insight.

Malta has established itself through its shortsea initiatives, through the Malta Shortsea Promotion Centre. This Centre promotes shortsea shipping initiatives in Malta through roro services and feedering networks, essential to the Maltese economy.

Malta also serves as a hub for the Oil and Gas industry through equipment, materials, private quay facilities and terminals, storage facilities as well as personnel logistic facilities. Malta is also an active offshore hub, servicing the needs of operators requiring the maintenance and upgrading of oil rigs.

Malta’s bunkering facilities, turning over 1.5 million tons of bunker oils per year, offer both onshore storage as well as blending facilities.

Malta has what it takes to be a premium hub for maritime activities. Through its extensive network of support services, clients can rest assured of the best during their port stay in Malta. Ship chandlery, Customs electronic systems, outside harbour related services as well as efficient crew changes make Malta such an attractive proposition.

Moreover, the industry is supported by reputable shipping services with regards to legal, insurance, as well as back office services.

Malta has an efficient Maritime jurisdiction as well as Maritime Arbitration services.

As a maritime hub of activity, Malta is also looking to the Blue economy. The island is attracting investment in blue energy, aqua culture, tourism, blue bio-technology as well as underwater archeology.

The Malta Maritime Forum brings together all the stakeholders in the Maltese Maritime Industry. Its objective is to create the necessary synergies and expand Malta’s network as an important international maritime hub.
Malta’s maritime roots are the foundation of its success today. Through the Malta Maritime Forum the industry is striving to set higher standards as well as create further opportunities through maintaining and developing local and international networks. Welcome to Maritime Malta!

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