The cost of transporting shipping containers between Malta and four Italian ports is set to rise by up to €90 per container from January.
On Monday, Italian shipping company Grimaldi Euromed announced it was raising its prices to offset a new EU environmental shipping tax which comes into effect next year.
The price hikes will affect the transport of shipping containers between Malta and the Italian ports of Genoa, Livorno, Salerno and Catania, with each route liable for different price increases.
The announcement comes ahead of the EU’s Emissions Trading System being extended to include shipping next year.
Under the scheme, carriers will be obliged to purchase ‘allowances’ to offset their carbon emissions when travelling to EU ports.
In a letter sent to transport and logistics companies and booking agents, Grimaldi said it was “obliged” to apply a new ‘ETS surcharge clause’, the costs of which it said would be updated every three months.
From January to March, the price of sending a container between Malta and its closest Italian port Catania is set to rise between €25 and €50, while those transported between Malta and Salerno, just south of Naples, will increase between €40 and €80.
Meanwhile, those sent between Malta and Livorno or Genoa – both further North on Italy's Western coast – will incur an additional cost of between €46 and €92.
These estimates were calculated by Times of Malta by first converting standard shipping container lengths of 20 ft and 40 ft to metres, then multiplying this by the cost per metre quoted by Grimaldi.
However, with some shipping containers liable to be larger in some instances, these costs could be higher.
In addition, while next year shipping companies will be expected to pay levies on only 40% of their emissions, over the following two years these will rise to 70% and 100% respectively, further increasing the cost of transporting containers.
According to PN MEP candidate Peter Agius, who has been a vocal critic of the government’s negotiations on ETS and who posted about Grimaldi’s announcement on Facebook, said it was important to pitch Malta’s case more effectively in Brussels.
Levies imposed by ETS had an “amplified impact” on Malta due to it being an island nation he said, urging authorities to be “much more vigilant to avoid Maltese consumers and businesses paying a disproportionate price for Malta's insularity.''
Earlier this month, the Malta Freeport warned that the introduction of the new environmental tax would lead to more costly imports and higher export costs.
Meanwhile, Labour MEP Cyrus Engerer has submitted questions to the European Commission about the economic risks to ports such as Malta in anticipation of ETS’ roll-out next year.