French Caribbean wants full participation in building an integrated Caribbean
FORT-DE-FRANCE, Martinique – The Caribbean Sea is a transit point for major maritime and air routes. The French Caribbean is a part of the global trade and global logistics chain. For years, the French Caribbean has been viewed as a part of the European Union, rather than a part of the Greater Caribbean. In fact, it was only when I was invited by President Sandra Casanova of Cluster GAT CARAIBES Logistique et Transports to be the keynote speaker at the press launch in Paris, that my eyes were opened up to the vast potential of the French Caribbean as a part of the Greater Caribbean and the gateway to the European Union.
This new perspective opens up a new world of opportunities for the Wider Caribbean, with a market of just under 900,000. A major shift in global transportation corridors, starting with the opening of the third lane of the Panama Canal later this year, will see some traffic moving from the existing Suez Canal and United States West Coast routes to the Panama Canal. This movement will provide opportunities for the economies of Greater Caribbean countries to participate in logistics solutions, linking wider North, Central and South American markets to Europe and the Far East.
The sailing of the 20,000 TEU MSC Marco Polo ship showed the expanded Panama Canal as insufficient to satisfy global trade. The potential of the Nicaraguan Canal represents more than a competitor to the Suez Canal and US West Coast, but a geopolitical shift to the Chinese. The once quiet Caribbean that was seen only for its tourism will now be a major contender in the global supply chain markets.
In the pre-globalization world, each village made most of what it consumed. Production and consumption were forced together by poor transportation. The steam revolution, particularly railroads and steamships, made it feasible to separate production and consumption, starting in the 1830s and accelerating in the 1870s (the Trans-America line was completed in 1869). Once feasible, scale of economies and comparative advantage made separation profitable. This transformed the world. The world is constantly changing and supply chain strategies must adapt to a new world order or face being ineffective and irrelevant. The supply chain innovations of yesteryear – barcodes, computerized tracking systems, the just-in-time delivery model and even online delivery channels – have all been responses to trends taking place at that particular time. In light of the Panama Canal expansion, there has been increased interest in the Caribbean region providing logistics solutions. The Greater Caribbean now has the opportunity to create Special Economic Zones (SEZs), attracting major companies to work together in providing last mile logistics solutions to a population of 800 million in a rapidly growing market in the south.
I am excited that this Trade Fair will be held ahead of the June opening of the expanded Panama Canal. It gives us an opportunity to showcase the French Caribbean as part of a larger Caribbean market and the access to the European Union, providing endless possibilities to French and European companies to invest in last mile logistics. Already major French companies have made significant investments in the region in ports, energy, water and general logistics, and this offers the perfect opportunity for others to join and cluster to create greater global value.
The French Caribbean has partnered with major Caribbean organizations, such as the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) and the two major regional transport organizations – the Caribbean Shipping Association (CSA) and the Port Management Association of the Caribbean (PMAC) – to stage this major conference.
This inaugural conference is a one-of-a-kind in the Caribbean and provides the perfect platform to create a think tank and information platform to build a united and more prosperous Caribbean. I am excited to participate and looking forward to a successful Trade Fair.
See you there!
“Cluster GAT CARAIBES Logistique et Transports” is an international network of transport and logistics companies, producers and distributors, training and research organizations involved in the worldwide transport of goods and people across Greater Caribbean.
The 1st Caribbean Transport and Logistics Trade Fair is supported by many public and private Caribbean and French organizations such as ASLOG, Transfrontier Operational Mission (MOT), MEDEF Martinique, CCIM, AMPI, Contact Enterprises, the Dominica Manufacturers Association, Arthur Lok Jack Business School, PMAC, and CSA.
But we want to stress the great support of Dr Fritz Pinnock, Executive Director at the Caribbean Maritime Institute, who has the open mindedness we need to advance beyond natural competition among territories. Come on and see a larger Caribbean and new opportunities for French and European companies to meet new partners!
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