Follow us: Entypo-facebook Entypo-twitter

CM-web-Banner-2014-b

CSA President's message

Infrastructure and human capital development critical for growth

We operate in an era of rapidly increasing trade opportunities and heightened competition, which has created an environment that demands modern and sophisticated infrastructure in order to function more effectively, facilitate greater growth and to remain relevant in the globalized marketplace.

In the shipping industry, the positive correlation between high quality, advanced infrastructure and continued economic viability and prosperity is all too clear. It is for this reason that we applaud the recent signing of the concession agreement between the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) and the French company Terminal Link/CMA CGM for operations of the Kingston Container Terminal (KCT). The company’s proposed investment of some US$ 600 million is a powerful demonstration of business confidence in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean, and reinforces the region’s strategic advantage of being located astride major trade routes.

As a formidable global brand ranked as the third-largest shipping company in the world, the presence of Terminal Link/CMA CGM in the Caribbean sends the important signal that exciting opportunities exist in the region. The company’s commitment to upgrading, expanding and operating the KCT under a 30-year concession, as well as its plan to dredge Kingston Harbor, will enable Jamaica to accommodate the mega ships that will soon transit an expanded Panama Canal. This is expected to significantly increase cargo flows through Caribbean ports that are actively seeking to achieve global transshipment hub status.

Competition

While this latest development constitutes greater competition among local players in the shipping landscape, it also represents an excellent opportunity to foster strategic synergies that will redound to our mutual benefit. Through meaningful collaboration, we can work to eliminate impediments, increase efficiencies, improve productivity and ultimately create a port environment that consistently functions as a homogenous economic zone.

This will undoubtedly go a far way in bolstering our business reputation, which recently received another major fillip with the visit of US President Barack Obama to Kingston. President Obama’s meeting with regional leaders at the CARICOM-US Summit in Kingston and subsequent engagement at the Seventh Summit of the Americas in Panama reaffirm the strategic importance of the Caribbean to the US. The discussions focused on strengthening relations and deepening partnerships in crucial areas such as trade, energy and security. The renewed interest of the US in the region comes at a time when China’s economic influence continues to unfold through significant investments in the Caribbean. Within the context of geopolitical dynamics, we are favorably positioned to enjoy strong and fruitful relations with both countries.

Our enhanced image as an investment destination and ongoing improvement in infrastructure have been opportunely complemented by several training initiatives spearheaded by the CSA to develop human capital in the industry. In April of this year, we facilitated the participation of 12 persons in a study tour of the DP World Caucedo marine terminal and free zone in the Dominican Republic. The participants were exposed to best practice operations and also took part in a training course. In previous years, the CSA organized similar study tours to the Cartagena Container Terminal in Colombia and the Manzanillo International Terminal (MIT) in Panama.

In addition to the many leading-edge training opportunities provided at annual conferences and other regional forums, our efforts in this area extend to the provision of two annual scholarships to pursue a master’s degree in port and maritime management at the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business in Trinidad and Tobago. The CSA also provides annual bursaries totalling US$ 20,000 to four students of the Caribbean Maritime Institute (CMI). These initiatives underscore the value that we place on developing the knowledge, skills and competence of our workforce, which will allow us to compete effectively on a global level and thereby secure the future of the regional shipping industry.

Human capital

While on the subject of human capital, it is with great pleasure that I commend the recent formation of the Caribbean chapter of the Women in Maritime Association (WIMA). Launched by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in April, the WIMA seeks to support regional efforts to deepen the integration of women in the maritime sector and encourage gender equality. While shipping remains a male-dominated industry, we are happy to witness the growing number of women who are currently enjoying success, particularly in leadership roles.

I look forward to engaging with you at the upcoming 14th Caribbean Shipping Executives’ Conference (CSEC) in Tortola, British Virgin Islands (BVI), which I expect will attract our members in large numbers. Hosted by the BVI Ports Authority, from 11 to 13 May, the conference will facilitate the exchange of ideas and discussions on key issues in our industry.

 

Grantley StephensonSTEPHENSON Grantley
President, Caribbean Shipping Association