Caribbean Maritime completes six years of publication with world markets and international trade still not bullish but not as bearish as in 2007. Business is still not back to where it was prior to the most recent global recession but nowhere near where we hoped it would be by now.
The white-knuckle days of foreclosures and bailouts are now behind and what a relief. And, economic indicators in the USA are at least trending in the right direction, to the relief of those who backed the re-election of President Barack Obama. However, the return to profitability in regional shipping is lagging. Players in the shipping industry of the Caribbean and Latin America will therefore be hoping for the good fortune promised in the Chinese zodiac as we enter the Year of the Snake.
The theme of this issue is The Year Ahead. And as we peer into the mist there are some positive signs; and, opportunities to exploit. There are moves in Trinidad and Tobago which could result in real growth in that twin-island republic’s maritime industry. Further south, the Shipping Association of Guyana is pushing ahead with initiatives to stimulate the upgrade and modernisation of the Demerara Port. The Shipping Association of Jamaica is moving to beef up security in the port district of Kingston while the Jamaica government is on the road courting investors for its proposed ‘logistics hub’. St. Vincent and the Grenadines is anticipating a significant increase in cruise business in the year ahead and has commissioned a port rationalisation and development study as a first step to future expansion.
On the other hand, word from Jamaica is that traffic through the Kingston Container Terminal is snarled with at least one feeder line, Caribbean Feeder Services, threatening drastic action. The President of the Puerto Rico Shipping Association has indicated his association’s determination to continue its fight in the courts against what he has termed an “unjust tariff”. And, the President of the Shipping Association of Barbados (SAB) is concerned about a haemorrhage of profits from the Caribbean as the trend by shipping lines to open their own agencies continues.
The year ahead brings its own challenges and uncertainties. Which year doesn’t? However, as SAB President Marc Sampson advocates, diversification and corporate flexibility may help to provide some of the opportunities which regional shipping will need to exploit in the year ahead.
Editor, Caribbean Maritime