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From the new CSA President, David Jean-Marie

An exciting but challenging year lies ahead

david jean marieIt is my pleasure to address you at the start of what will be an exciting, pivotal year for all involved in commercial maritime activities in the Caribbean. Allow me to reiterate my thanks at being entrusted with the role of custodian of the association for the next year as its new President. I again assure you of my commitment to building the CSA to be a stronger, more vibrant industry leader for shipping in this hemisphere.

david jean marieThat said, we all recognize that it will not be business as usual in 2016 given the opening of the third lane of the Panama Canal and the resultant changes in global transportation corridors.

We are also called to reckon with the emergence of Cuba as a dynamic player in the region’s shipping industry, as well as the potential impact of the Nicaraguan inter-oceanic canal (though now apparently on hold), the advent of the large vessel conglomerates, the new global emissions and container weight regulations, among other factors.

Think tank

All represent paradigm shifts that the CSA will have to interpret and respond to. All require us to strengthen our role as a regional ‘think tank’ and speak out on emergent issues. As industry leaders, we have to chart a course for the rest of the industry to follow. We must redouble our efforts as advocates for territorial legislative and trade policy changes to facilitate growth. We must bolster these efforts by evolving our local operations and service provision to meet new global standards.

The fundamental changes our industry is undergoing also emphasize the importance of scale and the wisdom of collaboration, coordination and consolidation. It highlights the need for more dialogue between ports and terminals to ensure that we can capitalize on the opportunities arising from the shifting operating dynamics within the Caribbean region. I urge us to consider how we can all leverage our collective operational knowledge and best practices from one port to another to our mutual advantage.

As the Caribbean focuses on our infrastructure and capacity strengthening, it is critical that we remain primed to respond to the opportunities arising in our market, especially where our competitors’ limitations are among our strongest value propositions. With an expanded Panama Canal as the centerpiece of our strategy and the widening gaps in the US East- West Coast trade, ports in the Caribbean should become increasingly attractive to both industry regulators and terminal operators. We have the collective capacity to handle current and expected volumes efficiently; and we have a long history of stable industrial relations with employers and unions. We must increase our own efficiencies and therefore keep the cost of doing business with us at attractive levels.

Integrate

As populations continue to climb and as world markets further integrate, the global flow of goods will have to keep pace. The world will require more from its logistics and supply chains, with much of that demand falling on global maritime logistics. We must continue to work as an association to ensure that our collective mission to become regional facilitators of global trade is realized. This must occur in a manner that helps to create an atmosphere where all of our economies can reach their full potential.

This year will not be without continued challenges to the region’s shipping interests. However, I am confident that we are equipped with the requisite levels of astuteness and agility needed to weather the storm and to capitalize on the myriad opportunities that will present themselves.

I wish you all a successful year and I look forward to seeing you at our 15th CSEC Conference in Cocoa Beach, Florida, in May.

David Jean-Marie
President
Caribbean Shipping Association