Barbados transport minister urges regional approach to shipping

MONTEGO BAY, St. James – Minister of International Business and International Transportation in Barbados, Hon. George Hutson, has called on member countries of the Caribbean Shipping Association (CSA) to demonstrate a more determined approach in dealing with issues confronting the shipping industry.

“I would use this opportunity to urge that there be a more determined regional approach to issues confronting the cruise shipping sector, some of which include, increased focus on holistic destination development, greater cooperation and improved communications between key tourism players throughout the industry and government, and across the region,” Mr. Hutson says.

He was making his contribution in a panel discussion on the 10 deliverables of the Regional Integrated Maritime Strategy (RIMS), at the 40th Annual General Meeting Conference and Exhibition of the Caribbean Shipping Association at the Rose Hall Resort and Spa in Montego Bay, St. James October 11 to 13.

The three-day conference saw about 400 delegates and top decision makers in the maritime industry in the Caribbean and Latin American participating in discussions, held under the theme, “RIMS Now: Dawn of a New Beginning”.

The Barbadian Minister argued that transportation by sea played a critical role in the realisation of the objectives of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), especially in providing better opportunities to produce and sell goods and service, and attract investments.

“It is therefore important that sea transportation is available, is adequate and at a cost which is not burdensome, or one which places the goods at a price which nullifies the benefits of competitive production processes and innovations,” he said, noting that the lack of low-cost transportation is one of the main factors inhibiting inter-regional trade.

He suggested that, as the price of oil continues to rise, the need for more effective trade routes should be examined with haste. He also warned countries in the region to guard against incidents of pollution in the Caribbean Sea, as this would be ‘catastrophic’.

“The Caribbean Sea is one of the world’s greatest shipping thoroughfares, and there is no doubt that the impact of a major pollution incident on local economies would be catastrophic,” Mr. Hutson said.

Effective May 1, 2011, the Caribbean Sea will be designated as a special area under Annex 4 of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, which means that the disposal of waste in the wider Caribbean Sea is strictly prohibited, he stated.

“I firmly believe that the Caribbean Shipping Association has a definite role to play in ensuring the efficiency and sustainable future of the maritime industry,” he concluded.

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