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worse than Germany (-5.5%),

though it is doing rather better than the UK (-11%). Malta’s economic contraction

was in fact the third largest in the EU, says the European Commission, despite attempts by the Government to introduce stimulus measures. These did at least blunt the expected rise in unemployment. The EU argued that the very

open nature of Malta’s economy, while an effective way of boosting growth in normal times, does mean that it is unusually vulnerable to external economic shocks. However, while these factors

will continue to weigh Malta down in the early part of 2021, the continued roll-out of the country’s

Issue 4 2021 - Freight Business Journal

vaccination programme – one of the most successful in the EU - could lead to a recovery from the later part of the year. This will be mostly on the back of increased exports and domestic consumption; it will take a long time for sectors such as tourism to fully recover. It remains to be seen whether the Maltese government’s offer to pay visiting tourists up to €200 if they book hotel rooms on the island will pay off.

On a brighter note, the Brexit

effect on the economy should have largely worked itself through, particularly with the negotiation of the EU-UK free trade agreement. On into 2022, the economy is

forecast to expand by 5.4% as net exports recover along with, to a lesser extent, domestic demand.

Grimaldi strengthens island presence with new ships

Naples-based Grimaldi Group has strengthened its presence in Malta. As well as reflagging the vessels of its Atlantic Container Line (ACL) subsidiary from the British to the Maltese flag following Brexit, its Malta Motorways of the Sea (MMOS) arm has strengthened its fleet with the purchase of two additional ro ro vessels, the Eurocargo Catania and Eurocargo Sicilia. Valletta-based MMOS has fleet of six ro ro vessels


operating regular services in the Mediterranean. These include a regular service between mainland Italy (Genoa, Livorno, Salerno

Medsea expands liner portfolio

Msida-based agent Medsea has added the BSM weekly service serving East Med and Black Sea ports to its portfolio, says commercial and projects logistics director, Anton Buttigieg. He explains:

“It gives us good transit times for imports from Turkey and Greece.” Medsea emerged as

representative on Malta for Cosco Shipping in 2017, following the merger of the

Chinese-owned container giants, Cosco and China Shipping, and it

is also now

focussing on the Cosco intra- Med services from Spain, Italy and France into Malta. Medsea also has


with the introduction of one of the 12 GG5G-class (Grimaldi Green 5th Generation) ro ro vessels currently under construction in Asia, four of which already delivered to the Group. Another vessel of the same class will be deployed on the route at the beginning of June. The GG5G-class are the biggest

and Catania) and Malta, under a Public Service Obligation contract with the Maltese Government, to guarantee shipment of essential commodities into the country. MMOS has a permanent

cooperation agreement with MCAST - Maritime Institute for the training of sea cadets on board

partnerships with

international forwarders Savino del Bene Group and the beverage specialist JF Hillebrand and its bulk liquid transport arm Trans Ocean Bulk Logistics, handling containerised imports of beers, wines, spirits and non- alcoholic beverages into Malta

its vessels. Hundreds of young Maltese cadets have received training so far, many of whom have also been hired by Grimaldi Group companies. In the second half of April,

the Grimaldi Group will further strengthen connections between Genoa, Livorno, Catania and Malta

through the JFH organisation. The company is also been agent for MOL (Europe Africa) since

January 2020 and

Multiport agent in Malta since July 2019, Buttigieg explains. Also since March this year,

Medsea has been involved in a joint venture with US-based 88 Logistics, offering LCL and full

short sea ro ro ships in the world, and are the most eco-friendly, says Grimaldi. With a length of 238 meters, 34 meters beam, a gross tonnage of 67,311 tonnes and a service speed of 20.8 knots, their loading capacity is twice that of the previous class of ro ro ships deployed by the Group. Each vessel can carry over 500 trailers as well as 180 cars. Their quarter stern ramp allows the loading of freight units weighing up to 150 tons.

load services from origins in Europe and the UK. Most Maltese companies

report business in Libya as being at a low ebb but Medsea recently chartered and loaded a vessel with 400 tons of pipes bound for Marsa El Brega, about 150km south of Benghazi.

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