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Baltic ro-ro and ferry conference 2007

Transport sector specialists discussed the future of transport in the Baltic Sea region during ‘Baltic ro-ro and ferry conference 2007’ organised in the Pomeranian Dukes’ Castle in Szczecin on 17-18 October 2007.

Participants of the conference presented their current situation and prospects of sea transport the in Baltic Sea Region, highlighting social, economic and political changes in that region. The Szczecin and Świnoujście Ports Authority shared the costs of the conference.

On the onset of the meeting, Mr. Janusz Catewicz, CEO at ZMPSiS S.A., paid special attention to investment which will be soon implemented in the port in Swinoujscie. The purpose of that investment is to modernise the sea ferries terminal to growing passenger and cargo transport. Mr. Catewicz emphasized the necessity to increase capacity of the terminal in Swinoujscie to enable servicing ferries over 200 m long.

Mr. Julian Skelnik, Chairman of Baltic Ports Organisation (BPO), mentioned high economic position of Scandinavian countries and the possibility of joint implementation of projects by countries in the Baltic Sea Region. Such projects may create a basis for joint applications to various EU funds.

Mr. Mathias Ludicke, ISL Baltic Consult Gmbh, presented very interesting data concerning transport in the Baltic Sea Region. In his opinion, sea transport in the region will further grow and already over 50% of cargo is transported by ships in the Baltic Sea Region.

Mr. Henryk Kaluzny, a representative of Stena Line, discussed prospects for the ferry shipping. He emphasized relationship between transport and economic development of individual Baltic states. Developing Europe requires new, quick and modern transport connections. The solution might be provided by fast passenger-vehicle ferries travelling with the speed of 40 knots.

Mr. Radosław Podhorecki, a representative of  the Finnish air carrier Finnair, discussed the competition between air and sea transport. He focused on advantages of air transport and emphasized that air connections market is very appealing. Thus, the number of low cost air carriers is rapidly growing and competition is strong. Competition in the case of air carriers is much stronger than among ferry operators. He concluded, however, that air transport does not compete with sea transport but may complement it.

Mr. Jan Warchol, the chairman of Polish Baltic Navigation, depicted the question of competition concerning the Baltic ferry market. In his opinion, the network of ferry connections in the Baltic Sea is well developed and thus, already existing connections should be further developed and adjusted to clients’ requirements rather than new lines opened. The only exception are short and usually seasonal tourist connections, for instance the service to and from Bornholm by smaller farries.

Mr. Andrzej Baron, a representative of  the Ports Authority, discussed launching motorways of the sea. He presented two projects. The project of Swinoujscie –Ystad connection has already been sent to relevant ministries in Poland and Sweden. Provided it receives a positive opinion, it will be sent to the European Commission for approval. The other project refers to the Swinoujscie-Klaipeda ferry connection which may be an alternative solution to the road transit through Poland for cargo transported from Berlin, Brandenburg, and north-east Europe to countries located in the eastern part of the Baltic Sea.

Conference discussions were very important element of the conference. Considerable controversy aroused as regards the situation of countries located in the eastern part of the Baltic Sea Region and Russia. Some of speakers expressed the opinion that those countries enjoyed growing and very promising markets whereas others believed the economies of those countries slowly but systematically slow down their development and reforms in Russia, including those related to development of transport, are too slow. Lithuania was mentioned as the most important player in the Baltic market, whereas Germany was considered to play the leading role in the western part of the Baltic Sea Region.

Conference discussed a number of issues. Participants of the conference asked many questions, answers to which may appear during the next year "Baltic ro-ro and ferry conference".