Thank you for those kind words, Charlie.
Master of Ceremonies Mr Fernando Rivera, General Manager of the Shipping Association
Mr Martin Medina, Caribbean Shipping Association Group D Chairman, thank you for the invocation.
Mr Juan Carlos Croston, President of the Caribbean Shipping Association
And of course, our own Charles Johnston of the Jamaica Shipping Association
Mr Marc Sampson, Vice President of the Caribbean Shipping Association
Members of the General Council of the Caribbean Shipping Association
Executive Representatives of public and private sector agencies
Ladies and gentlemen, good morning.
It is my pleasure to welcome you to Jamaica and to the opening ceremony of the Caribbean Shipping Association’s 18th Annual Shipping Executives Conference. Jamaica is proud to be hosting this important meeting and I’m pleased at the high level of attendance this morning. Allow me to extend hearty congratulations to the Shipping Association of Jamaica which is celebrating its 80th anniversary.
The Shipping Association has come a long way since its formation and has set a high benchmark for excellence in its efforts to promote and protect the interest of the Jamaican shipping industry as well of those of the wider region. To the Shipping Association, we express deep appreciation for eight decades of sterling service and we wish you continued longevity and success in the next eighty years to come which I intend to be around to see and don’t worry Charlie will be around to see as well.
I wish also to congratulate the Caribbean Shipping Association on nearly fifty years of steadfastly promoting and facilitating the growth of the Maritime Sector in the Caribbean and Latin American region and for being recognized unequivocally as the voice of the regional shipping industry.
Through force such as this, the Caribbean Shipping Association continues to fulfil its mandate of fostering the exchange of the information and ideas that will aid its membership to maximize efficiency and output while devising solutions to surmount the challenges facing the regional shipping industry.
Building on the momentum and success of previous years I believe this staging of the Caribbean Shipping Executives Conference will continue to bring awareness to pertinent issues and illuminate the path forward for the Maritime Industry and for the business of logistics which we have embraced as a pivotal industry for Jamaica.
As I’ve emphasized before, such development cannot be confined discreet events or facilities, there must be relationships among a range of goods, services, providers and infrastructure that will ensure the linkages for us to succeed.
Ladies and gentlemen, over the last decade the critical importance of the Maritime sector to our economic development has garnered much-deserved attention. We rely heavily on shipping to facilitate trade within the region and the wider international community. The industry also contributes significantly to tourism and to other aspects of development in our respective territories. Our strategic location at the intersection of major east-west and north-south global container shipping lanes provides us with enviable maritime connectivity that has an overwhelming potential for business success.
The Shipping Associations within the region plays an important role in the development of the industry through advocacy, collaboration on regulations and standards, information sharing, coordination and connectivity with all stakeholders and across all sectors providing for the movement of people, goods and commodities thereby ensuring a safe, efficient, secure and seamless shipping industry. I know right here in Jamaica that the shipping association has played and continues to play an important role in the development of the regulatory framework and has given incredible advice and support in the development of a new Customs Act that will modernize and make more efficient Jamaica’s own shipping industry and indeed our logistics industry. And again, I want to thank the Shipping Association for all the help that they have given in developing the new legislation.
Multi-billion-dollar investments have been made across the Caribbean and Latin America to strengthen our position in global maritime trade by focusing on the expansion of our ports and our ability to accommodate more cargo and larger vessels. Despite these investments, however, greater focus needs to be placed on improving the efficiency of supply chains and addressing issues related to maritime transport and logistics.
The rise of global value chains and their transformative effect on world trade are shaping the future of the industry and as a region, we must embrace technology and innovation to be adequately prepared to take advantage of the benefits that abound. Here in Jamaica, we’ve identified the positioning of the country as a major logistics hub in the Western hemisphere as one pillar of our economic development. This ambitious initiative recently took another step forward with the launch of the Jamaica Trade Information Portal.
The Jamaica Trade Information Portal is a single authoritative source for trade information directly related to import and export regulations, processes and requirements. Businesses can conveniently access this portal at any time to retrieve the relevant information they need. It is the first of its kind in the English-speaking Caribbean. This Portal is part of our ongoing efforts to modernize our trade infrastructure to improve the ease of doing business in Jamaica. In the fast-paced global market to remain competitive it is critical that businesses are able to access information quickly and respond effectively.
Export and import companies can now enjoy greater transparency and predictability of trade procedures, higher compliance levels and a reduction in the cost of doing business. The trade facilitation value of the Jamaica trade information portal, when considered in the broader framework of the National foreign trade policy, is poised to have a powerful impact on global value chain participation as we strengthen our integration into the digital global economy.
Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to turn your attention to another important issue in the shipping industry that has been resonating strongly with me in recent times and that is the blue economy. In my capacity as a member of the high-level panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, I have the honour of representing the interest of Jamaica, the Caribbean region and indeed all small island developing states on this very important Ocean’s panel made up of serving political leaders.
The panel brings commitment at the highest political levels to promote the idea that a sustainable ocean is vital to achieving sustainable development and prosperity. Sustainable management of oceans for present and future generations is an imperative not only for the health of our environment but also to increase economic growth and job creation. I am delighted to see that this conference will devote considerable time to cultivating a clear understanding of the value of the blue economy and exploring actionable steps that will truly make a difference.
Ladies and gentlemen, I had a chance to browse through your conference agenda and I know you will have a very busy day today and for the next few days. I urge you to approach the tasks ahead with determination, innovation and a strong spirit of cooperation and collaboration. I have no doubt that the discussions will be fruitful and will yield favourable outcomes. I invite you to ensure that your hosts treat you to some of the sights and delights of our capital and if you do get a chance you will see that there are some major changes in the city since the last time you visited and I gather that your spouses are already enjoying some of our attractions and certainly hope that your schedule allows you to get some time to indulge.
With that said, it now gives me great pleasure to declare open this 18th Annual Shipping Executives Conference of the Caribbean Shipping Association. Thank you and best wishes for a successful conference.