Caribbean Chambers Focus on Trade and Shipping for Growth | Business
The Caribbean Chambers of Commerce Network, CARICHAM, points to the transportation challenges compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as inefficiencies in trade agreements within the Caribbean Community, Caricom, the region and of the world, as being among the main stumbling blocks. to do business. Andrew Santey, trade facilitation adviser and vice-president of the group, says that in many cases there is a mismatch between local laws and global agreements.
It calls for the exploitation of new and existing possibilities in maritime arrangements and better coordination between customs agencies in the region as means of resolving problems. Transshipment, he noted, needs to be accelerated to allow the region to take advantage of emerging trends in global trade.
“There is a lot of bulk cargo in large container ships bringing cargo to us from Asia. Maybe there could be opportunities in some of the Caribbean islands where we can encourage transshipment from other coastal ports in the region,” Santey said at an online forum held March 22 to promote business, trade and economic growth in the region.
The forum organized by CARICHAM noted that the Caricom region has been cited in various reports, including that of the United Nations National Commission on Trade and Development and other trade bodies, as having ports that do not not operate to their full potential given their proximity to the world’s major shipping lanes.
Eldris Pierre Mauricette, islands manager at Florida-based Tropical Shipping, says the realities of the logistical challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic recommend that improvements be made to regional shipping. Anticipating further increases in shipping costs to come, Mauricette is also urging the operation of more local businesses in the region. Regional importers, he said, should seek to source more from companies in the Latin America and Caribbean region, as freight rates and other costs from Asia will be at near historic levels for the remainder of 2022 to 2023.
Mauricette also points out that shipping in the Caribbean is affected by importers holding on to containers for a longer period of time, resulting in the continued container shortage that began with the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic, as well than a more lucrative cruising navigation posing schedules and conflicts of capacity for the transport of goods. Mauricette said these issues particularly affect small island developing states and are likely to persist for some time.
Meanwhile, Santey urges businesses and regional governments to continue and strengthen the systems put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Adjustments, such as working from home and process improvements, he suggested, must be made more permanent through the application of appropriate technology.
“While the pandemic has been going on for two years and people have been predicting how soon it will end, let’s not act with that in mind. Let’s continue to strengthen all the systems in place,” Santey warned. , highlighting areas for strengthening in administration and necessary investments in technology and human resources, for Caribbean businesses to operate more efficiently at lower costs.