CSA commended for leading role in regional shipping
Mark Vanterpool, minister for communications and works in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), which played host to delegates attending the 14th Caribbean Shipping Executives Conference in capital city Tortola last week, has commended the Caribbean Shipping Association (CSA) for fostering the development of the vital regional shipping industry since its inception in 1971.
"I encourage you to continue this very important work of information exchange, training and development of our human resources, and generally being the voice of the Caribbean shipping industry," Vanterpool told the delegates attending the conference, held from May 11-13.
"With our Caribbean islands as strategically positioned as they are in this part of the world, it is definitely to our benefit to work together to maximise these advantages, as it relates to trade, travel and transport. The Caribbean has had a history of cooperation in inter-regional relations, and it is commendable to see the Caribbean Shipping Association doing its part to foster the development of the vital shipping industry," he added.
At a cocktail event at the Moorings Mariner Inn, on the first night of the conference, delegates were royally fÍted by the minister, under whose portfolio the BVI Ports Authority falls. They were also able to experience the BVI through various networking events and tours throughout the conference, including a 'BVI Night' at the newly expanded Cruise Pier, and an island cruise which landed them at the famous Foxy's bar and restaurant, located in Great Harbour on the island of Jost Van Dyke.
Some 150 delegates from countries in the Caribbean, Latin America and Europe, as well as shipping interests in the US and trade experts from as far as Geneva, Switzerland, were in attendance at the three-day conference organised by the CSA in collaboration with the BVI Ports Authority and held at the UP's Complex in Tortola.
CSA president, Grantley Stephenson, set the tone for the meeting in his opening remarks, challenging the region's shipping executives to stay ahead of the unfolding events in the sector in order to capitalise on the opportunities that present themselves. To illustrate, among other things, he pointed to the need for the delegates to fully understand how trade logistics can impact the sector.
"Trade facilitation is
pivotal to development. It enhances countries' competitiveness by allowing them to trade goods and services on a timely basis with lower transaction costs. Conversely, inefficient logistics procedures and infrastructure can pose a significant obstacle to trade by making it difficult for countries to tap new market opportunities or improve their overall competitiveness. We need to fully grasp our role and business potential in this critical area," Stephenson said.
Delegates heard insights on this topic as part of presentations by Patricia Francis, head of the trade facilitation task force of Jamaica, and Rajesh Aggarwal, chief of business and trade policy from the International Trade Centre in Geneva.
The conference also provided updates on critical maritime developments in the region, including a progress report on the construction of the giant lock gates that are a key part of the Panama Canal's multibillion-dollar expansion project, slated to be officially opened in 2016. The updates on proposed tariffs for the expanded Panama Canal by Oscar Bazan, executive vice-president, planning and business development, Panama Canal Authority, also proved a popular topic among the region's shipping executives in attendance.
Delegates also heard from presenters on topics ranging from drug trafficking to corporate philanthropy and environmental preservation. Presentations from Charles 'Bud' Darr, senior vice-president - global technical and regulatory affairs, Cruise Line International Association, as part of a cruise forum, were among those which were well received, as was information on liquefied natural gas production and shipping by Eduardo Pagan, vice-president and general manager, Sea Star Line, and John Hatley, PE - Americas vice-president from Ship Power, Wartsila.
Members of the CSA will meet again in October at the CSA's annual general meeting, conference and exhibition slated for Cartagena, Colombia.