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Caribbean ports in line for growth

BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

Caribbean ports in line for growth

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Barbados and its Caribbean neighbours are “on the cusp of unprecedented growth” and the shipping industry stands to benefit from it.

That’s the view of the Caribbean Shipping Association president Grantley Stephenson, who was speaking at a recent meeting for regional shipping executives.

“In order for us to realise this promise, our efforts today must be underpinned by bold thinking and an unequivocal acknowledgement of the changing context within which we operate,” he said.

“While we continue to compete among ourselves in the region, we should also begin to grasp important lessons from developments – even within our own marketplace – and unite our efforts to offer even fiercer competition on a global stage.”

Stephenson said that the Caribbean faced “interesting changes” with respect to cargo and cruise, and that “our region is certainly in for some interesting times with the entry of the new Sealand into the Caribbean service”.

He referred to statements made by non-cruise nations such as the United Arab Emirates that plan to develop into a greater cruise destination than the Caribbean, and said regional ports needed to be wary of such challenges.

“We need to be aware of how we may continue to deepen our competitive advantage as a region,” he said.

The president urged the regional shipping industry to see the current period as “a recovery phase to make the necessary adjustments to take advantage of the opportunities that are to come – specifically the opening of the wider and deeper locks in the Panama Canal in 2015”.

“We are moving into an era more greatly defined by modern technology. As operators of businesses in the maritime sector, we must continue to evolve along with the technology in order to remain in business,” he said.

Speaking at the same meeting, director of the Port of Miami, Juan Kuryla, said the Caribbean was important to trade in that city, noting that the Caribbean constitutes approximately 12 per cent of the Miami port’s total trade.

“Caribbean countries are some of the most valuable trade partners we have at Port Miami and the opportunity to speak with all of the region’s most important players means a lot to me and to the Port as a whole,” Kuryla said. (SC)