Private entrepreneurs, leaders of various associations and executives of infrastructural facilities in no fewer than 28 countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa converged on Trieste, capital of the Friuli Venezia Giulia region in north-eastern Italy, late last month.

They were invited to a two-day workshop, with the title 'The intermodal system of Friuli Venezia Giulia: an opportunity to seize' (sic), organised by the Chamber of Commerce of Trieste, in co-operation with the Italian Institute of Foreign Trade (ICE), and supported by the Friuli Venezia Giulia region.

The venue of the workshop was the newly refurbished Stazione Marittima Congress Centre on the port city's waterfront. Following a morning of presentations, the parti-cipants were given the opportunity to have one-to-one meetings and on the following day taken on a tour of the port.

Apart from the attendance of over 120 officials, the event was covered by some 30 journalists, many of them working with specialised logistics publications.

The countries represented included Albania, Algeria, Austria, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Egypt, Germany, Greece, Israel, Kenya, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Macedonia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovenia, Turkey, Tunisia, the Ukraine and Hungary.

There were also over 60 private infrastructure operators from the region, who took the opportunity to meet their counterparts in the various countries hosted.

Trieste has a long history and for centuries it was the main port of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Friuli Venezia Giulia region's infrastructure includes three ports, a modest airport, transhipment terminals, railways and motorways.

It is in these transhipment or logistics terminals that the region is placing much emphasis, also given Europe's slowing economy.

In his welcome address, Antonio Paoletti, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Trieste, said the region had been working on creating a single, unified logistical intermodal regional platform for more than a year.

Roberto Dipiazza, mayor of Trieste, referred to the Fifth Corridor project linking Lisbon in the western part of the European Union with Eastern Europe via Trieste. He also spoke of the savings in terms of sailing days for those vessels coming to Europe from the Far East and China - as much as five days over the north of Europe.

The region aimed to be fully integrated with global traffic flows from Africa, South America and the rest of the world.

Dott. Giampaolo Chiappini Carpena, regional co-ordinator for the north of Italy of ICE, spoke of the many challenges of an enlarged European Union. Transport systems, he said, are out of synch with the new market realities.

"All Italian ports have seen an increase in business, not just within Europe but globally," he said. He said the workshop was intended to stimulate information on the facilities available also in view of the EU White Paper on Transport, aimed to promote the use of ships as opposed to land-based transportation systems where possible.

Fabio Scoccimarro, president of the Trieste province, urged the government of Slovenia to ensure its infrastructure would be completed within the 2012-2015 timeframe expected, referring to the country as the "weak link" in the Fifth Corridor project.

Giovanni Pavan, president of Unioncamere Friuli Venezia Giulia, called on greater assistance to firms in their efforts to promote the region's infrastructure. Trieste has had a freeport since 1719 and currently has a turnover of 730,000 TEUs.

The major presentations of the first day were delivered by Klaus Lippstreu, board member of Schenker & Co. AG of Austria; Massimo Fontolan, chief executive officer of SAIMPEM Fpso SpA; and Paolo Rossi, sales manager of Reggiane Cranes and Plant.

These three operators, working in different sectors and having different links with the infrastructure set-up, spoke of how they had found the Friuli Venezia Giulia region ideal for their operations.

On the eve of the workshop, Mr Paoletti and other officials of the Chamber of Commerce of Trieste, hosted some foreign journalists at the chamber's premises in the city, where there is a showcase of the region's products and where a private restaurant has been installed to enable the culinary excellence of the region to be presented.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us