Last update: 06-Dec-2013 8:12 am
Friday, December 06, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Bharath hopes for sustainable, competitive shipping sector
Trade Minister Vassant Bharath on Saturday moved to assure members of the local maritime industry that Government is putting in place the necessary mechanisms to ensure the sector was both sustainable and competitive in the face of growing regional and global competition.
Speaking at the Shipping Association of T&T (SATT) 75th Anniversary Dinner and Awards Ceremony held at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad on Dock Road in Port-of-Spain, the minister revealed that the State was in the process of executing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for a project for the design and build of a news transshipment port and dry dock facilities to be established in south western Trinidad.
“We are also supporting and improving efficiency at our existing Port. Just last Wednesday we met with the contractor retained by the Chinese Government NucTech Company Limited. This Beijing-based company was contracted for the purchase and installation of a linear accelerator x-ray scanning and detection system for use by the Port Authority of T&T; a scanner with the capacity to scan 200 containers per hour,” said Bharath.
He added, “A strategic plan was developed to position our local industry as a maritime hub and global leader in the maritime industry characterised by service excellence, innovation, customers focus, environmental sustainability and human resource development. The objectives outlined in the Merchant Marine Industry Strategic Plan include the upgrading of legislative and regulatory environmental reform, human resource development and in the development of competitive clusters.”
In keeping with Government’s thrust to diversify the economy, said the minister, the maritime industry has been identified as a key sector for development. Bharath reminded the audience that this country’s long standing maritime history had seen operators benefit from its favourable geographical location–away from the hurricane belt and–strategically located between key trade routes connecting North and South America. This was proof, he said, that the maritime industry is a critical facilitator to international trade.
Approximately 90 per cent of volume of the world trade, said Bharath ,was carried by seaborne transport and that maritime industry activities, especially seaborne transport were therefore closely correlated to industrial activity, GDP growth and merchandise trade. Exploring the implications of the Panama Canal expansion project and its impact on the local industry the minister sighted numerous opportunities for added growth.
“Therein lies many an opportunity for T&T in this sector, as it is expected to have a major positive impact on regional transshipment activities. This is so as the Panama Canal is well placed to be the anchor point of the Caribbean transshipment triangle; key east-west trade routes intersect with north-south connectors, making nearby ports ideal for cargo transshipment; and the edges of the Caribbean Transshipment Triangle encompass Panama, Bahamas and T&T,” he said.
Bharath added, “We anticipate increased transshipment activity from shipping lines servicing Southern USA, East Coast USA, Brazil, Guyana and the Eastern Caribbean, as a result of the expanded Panama Canal. We are strategically located to supply bunkers to vessels travelling to (and) from the Panama Canal. Regional ports including Colombia, Venezuela and Jamaica are investing heavily in developing and upgrading their infrastructure and equipment in anticipation of these opportunities. What this means for T&T is that we must take action!”
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