Joseph Zammit Tabona, a leading entrepreneur and Chairman of the Malta Business Network (MBN) Foundation, told a gathering in London that only unity can overcome the many challenges currently confronting the maritime sector, urging “diplomatic dialogue, international cooperation and the protection of maritime trade routes” to create “a more secure, stable and sustainable future for the sector.

Speaking at the prestigious International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Headquarters in London on 27th February, Mr Zammit Tabona was addressing participants of a networking event meant to showcase the Maltese maritime sector, organising by the UK branch of the MBN and the Malta Maritime Forum (MMF).

The initiative succeeded at offering a unique opportunity for a delegation of 35 MMF members to network with London-based maritime professionals and practitioners and was addressed by the newly appointed Minister for Transport, Infrastructure, and Public Works, Chris Bonett; expert keynote speaker Prof. Charles Debattista – a leading London-based Barrister, Arbitrator and Mediator; and the MMF Chairman, Godwin Xerri, with Martin Zahra, Chairman of MBN UK, moderating the proceedings.

In his address, Mr Xerri outlined the myriad maritime services and activities offered in Malta which he said are best exemplified through the international recognition that Malta holds as a flag state, a financial hub and the quality of legal service in the maritime field.

He said that the providers of maritime services in Malta are in general represented by the Malta Maritime Forum set up by industry for industry in 2015. He said that it was the MMF’s mission to serve as a common platform to consult and to be consulted, because it believed that only through a healthy consultative process can the Maltese maritime industry thrive and retain its competitiveness globally.

He added that the MMF also had a strong mission to promote maritime careers and vocational education with the support of its relevant members including the University of Malta, MCAST and Maritime MT.

Lastly, Mr Xerri said that the Forum was now committed to support in the internationalisation of maritime business by supporting its members to promote their services abroad.

On his part, Prof. Charles Debattista outlined the role Malta played over the years in the maritime law world underlining how despite being a small island, it has long punched above its weight in terms of the contributions it has made to the resolution of shipping disputes.

He referred to the UN Convention for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) which was the result of Malta’s first foray on the international stage. At the time, Arvid Pardo had proposed what he called a “Constitution for the Oceans” which would regard the high seas and their resources as the “common heritage of mankind”. Prof. Debattista said that the current issues in the Red Sea show that the High Seas are constantly replete with challenges and is in constant need of dispute resolution.

He mentioned the creation of the International Maritime Law Institute, set up by the IMO in Malta, before paying tribute to a line of maritime professionals hailing from Malta and who are highly regarded in international maritime circles for their contribution to the maritime sector at the global level.

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