Lloyd’s List – 29th Sept 2009
Jamaica to compete for status as a global centre
JAMAICA has plans to establish itself as a global centre of the shipping industry, with a strategy that will see it go head to head with other nearby nations also seeking to reap the rewards of the widening of the Panama Canal, writes David Osler .
According to a statement issued by the Maritime Authority of Jamaica, consultants have recently been in the country for discussions with state officials and private sector organisations, and will now develop specific recommendations for the introduction of a legal and institutional framework that will put any emerging maritime cluster on a sustainable basis.
Maritime Authority director general Peter Brady, who is in charge of the project, said: “Jamaica is a maritime state by virtue of its history, international trade links, geographical position in the hemisphere and dependency on the sea.
“There is strong demand for our maritime facilities, particularly because Jamaica is strategically situated at the centre of an 800m person market in the western hemisphere, including the largest market in the world, the US.”
He said that Jamaica was located on strategic trade routes and would benefit from the projected increase in transhipment traffic through the Caribbean.
In addition, it could offer low-cost labour.
Existing facilities, including a container transhipment port, a cruise port and an International Maritime Organization-approved officer school, collectively enjoy sufficient weight to constitute the basis of the intended cluster. Also, bunkering activities have grown significantly since they started in 2005, Rear Adm Brady added.
Target sectors it hopes to attract include merchant shipping, shipmanagement, shipbroking and chartering, shiprepair, and maritime services such as ship finance and insurance.
However, Jamaica will need to be mindful that other countries in the Caribbean, most notably Panama with its stated intention of becoming “the Singapore of the west”, are also eyeing available opportunities.
Sources indicate that Kingston in Jamaica is running just about neck and neck with Freeport in the Bahamas for regional dominance in container transhipment, but that the degree of competition is allowing shipping companies to play off ports against one another. The Colombian port of Cartagena is also winning European business.