Earlier this year the Caribbean Shipping Association collaborated with Manzanillo International Terminal (MIT) in Panama to present a training seminar for marine terminal personnel from across the Caribbean and Latin American region. The training event lasted for a week and, so as to ensure that each participant got maximum benefit, it was delivered to two small groups, separately, in consecutive weeks.
The feedback from participants was overwhelmingly positive and upbeat (see pages 24 & 25). The consensus was that (a) the experience was valuable and would be beneficial to the countries from which they came; (b) the content and delivery were excellent; and (c) the CSA should present such training events more often. Please read the comments of the participants and discern the gratitude and appreciation embedded in their unedited responses. Clearly they left Panama feeling empowered.
MIT has a technologically advanced operation, with skilled and experienced personnel and world-standard service delivery. Indeed, this terminal won the CSA’s Port Award Competition on so many occasions, at one point it voluntarily decided not to compete in order to give other terminals an opportunity to win. MIT has since gone a step further, by opening its doors and making its personnel and facilities available for transfer of knowledge and methodology to countries in the English, Spanish, French and Dutch Caribbean and Latin America. This is regional cooperation in action and in this regard, MIT, a Panamanian entity, has quietly done more for the development of the Caribbean than many who publicly proclaim regionalism but who find it difficult to shake off the shackles of protectionism.
Of course this cross-border cooperation would have been extremely difficult without the pivotal role of the CSA in creating, over 40 years, a regional network of shipping entities. This level of fraternal cross-border cooperation, where information and techniques are freely shared for the greater good and benefit of all, was the dream of the founding fathers of the West Indies Federation back in the 1950s. This erstwhile federation of English-speaking states failed miserably after only a few years and subsequent replacements have had to grapple with thorny issues such as ‘protectionism’ and ‘rules of origin’. However, that colossal failure, which has taught many lessons, brings into sharp focus the successes (and inherent potential) of the CSA in promoting regional cooperation.
The CSA-MIT initiative in March 2013, in which knowledge, experience and best practices were shared across national borders, free of cost to participants, is laudable, inspiring and, given the sentiments of the participants, empowering.
Caribbean Maritime notes with sadness the passing of R.C.N. ‘Reggie’ Smith, Group A chairman of the CSA from 1981 to 1984 (see page 40). A former President of the Shipping Association of Jamaica, Reggie Smith was a CSA stalwart and made a significant contribution to the advancement of the CSA’s Training Trust Fund through his fund-raising initiatives.
Editor, Caribbean Maritime