Today we meet Lara Tropia from Assagenti (Association of general agents and brokers, shipagents and aviation agents), an association, with its 120 associates, that is the biggest of its kind in Italy.
Can you tell me about your career?
I started out as a journalist. After a degree in Political Science I started working for a local economics magazine, where I specialized in maritime transport. My first article was entitled ‘The History of VTE’. Now in Assagenti I take care of public relations, the press office, and general administration.
What does a ship agent do?
The shipping agent has always been the contact between the ship and the territory. In the Port of Genoa the agent represents the foreign shipping company. In Italy there is a law that safeguards them. All the foreign ships that stopover at the national ports are obliged to have a local representative. The agent also acts a guarantee for the suppliers of technical nautical services, because it is the agent that involves the various people required.
With the advent of the container the shipping agents have become more specialized and have become part of the supply chain in every effect. As well at the management of paperwork on behalf of the shipping company, the agent takes care of the booking of the container from the factory of origin right up to the final destination and carries out numerous other support activities.
The agent creates the traffic. They look for the shipping company and promote Genoa as a possible destination. At the end of the day, they bring investment to the territory.
What do you think that 2017 will be like?
2017 will be a very important year both for the entire sector and ourselves. It is going to be a transformation period. A lot of companies are uniting thanks to a series of mergers and acquisitions.
We are going to undertake an important initiative in the markets of Switzerland and Southern Germany. We will continue to monitor the Italian and International geopolitical situation with great interest, with particular attention given to the decisions of the US presidency.
We will continue to work with China for the development of the New Silk Road, the important Europe Far East route.
What are the main competitive advantages for Genoa that you promote?
First of all, Genoa is one of the largest ports in the Mediterranean with tangible and intangible structures on the cutting edge of technology.
It is a port that has always been dedicated to innovation. Back in 2008 we were the first port in Italy to introduce a Port Community System for the dematerialisation of documents and the reduction of time spent on paperwork.
It is also worth pointing out the reform in the port governance that is about to be accomplished. This will introduce innovations such as the Single Desk that will allow us to simplify procedures and to have a more efficient and streamline bureaucracy.
We have a strong local business community, very capable and very competent. We have been carrying out this activity for years and we know how to handle the goods.
Finally, the position of Genoa is now more strategic than ever thanks to the opening of infrastructures such the Gotthard Pass and the Terzo Valico high-speed train line. Genoa is accessible to the highly industrialised European markets.
And what about Italian industry?
We have to work together. Italian industry needs strong Italian logistics in order to be competitive on the global markets.
The Shipbrokers and Shipagents Dinner is your main event.
The Shipbrokers and Shipagents Dinner is our event that began fourteen years ago to gather the world of shipping together in Genoa. The last event catered for 3200 people from 1600 companies all over the world. It’s a great business opportunity for us as well as a substantial source of income for the territory.