CEO of Barbados Port Inc., David Jean-Marie was re-elected unopposed as the President of the Caribbean Shipping Association (CSA) at its 46th Annual General Meeting, Conference and Exhibition hosted at the Hyatt Regency Port of Spain, October 17 -19. The annual event promotes increased collaboration among regional ports for the continued growth of the maritime industry, as well as general development of the Caribbean region.
In his opening remarks, Barbados Port Inc. (BPI) CEO and CSA President, David Jean-Marie welcomed delegates with news of CSA pledge to provide $10 000 USD financial aid to the hurricane-ravaged Caribbean country of Haiti. “Given the level of destruction left in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, there is a need for urgent humanitarian assistance in Haiti. The CSA General Council has always been committed to our regional partners, therefore in addition to the efforts made by individuals or through our companies, we are pledging to raise an initial $10 000 USD, and we invite our members and associates to contribute through the Secretariat,” he said. Jean-Marie also emphasised that the CSA will utilise a reputable Caribbean charity to deliver this assistance on the ground.
Jean-Marie went on to highlight that recent developments have seen one of the most substantial restructurings of the global shipping industry in decades. He explained sustained weaknesses in global trade growth, unrelenting and intense competition, a mismatch in supply and demand, and historically low freight rates have forced the industry to drastically cut costs and seek out operating efficiencies, including potentially disruptive mergers and acquisitions. He explained those bearing the most financial burden include a large portion of the CSA’s membership base. “Dramatic changes in the industry have meant we are now all operating under a philosophy of survival to adapt to this new maritime climate. Now is the time for rapid-fire transformation and evolution, both operationally and structurally, in order to realise new sustainable business growth in this environment,” he said.
Jean-Marie emphasised that firmer strategic partnerships between regional ports and the diversification of the shipping industry were key areas which would assist to combat the issues currently facing Caribbean shipping interests. “We have no choice but to come together and transform to keep up with the current trends and create business opportunities for ourselves,” he told conference attendees, which included members of the CSA’s General Council, the Director of Maritime Services, and specially-invited public officials.
Barbados has been selected host of the 47th CSA Annual General Meeting next year.