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Transport and Works Minister, Robert Pickersgill, has said that the Jamaican government was fully cognisant of the growth potential of the shipping sector and “that understanding has driven our commitment to the ongoing expansion of the sector, with a particular focus on facilitating increases in efficiency and productivity.”
Stating that Jamaica had the advantage of location as well as one of the finest natural harbours, the Minister said, “we are committed to making the best use of these advantages and in fact, we clearly visualise and are working hand in hand with various players of the sector toward making Jamaica the next important international maritime centre.”
Mr. Pickersgill’s comments came yesterday (Dec. 6) at the official opening of CMA CGM Jamaica Limited offices at Newport West.
CMA CGM Jamaica Limited is a joint venture operation involving the world’s third largest container line, CMA CGM, which is headquartered in France and its Jamaican partners, Gateway Shipping Limited and GraceKennedy Limited. The shipping line is celebrating one-year of operations in Jamaica, having been incorporated in the country in December 2004.
The Transport Minister disclosed that the volume, as well as the number of containers being shipped on CMA CGM vessels to and from their Kingston hub, has increased by over 100 per cent since 2002.
“That volume has moved from 123,141 TEUs or 20-foot container equivalents to 263,508 TEUs,” Mr. Pickersgill said, further noting that the increased business and trend in operations of the company “speak to the fact that our fundamental assumptions about the possibilities for growth in the shipping sector are correct.”
He explained that these factors “weighed heavily in the decision by CMA CGM and its local partners to establish a full service office, replacing the previous arrangement whereby the interests of the shipping line in Jamaica were served through an agency.”
Offering greetings, Harry Maragh, President of the Shipping Association of Jamaica, congratulated the shipping company on the opening of its offices in Newport West, and noted that the company had “already established itself as a major player in the local shipping industry and as a valuable corporate citizen of the Newport West community.”
Mr. Maragh remarked that globalisation and the quest to become more efficient have been driving forces fuelling changes in the maritime industry, and as the transformation continued, it would have far-reaching effects on the way the operations of shipping businesses were conducted.
“We see that CMA CGM Jamaica has risen to the occasion by providing facilities and services of the highest international standards through their team of experienced professionals,” he added.
On the international level, the CMA CGM Group recorded movements of 4.42 million TEUs and had total revenue of $4.9 billion for 2004. Over the next year, the global shipping line is expected to introduce new services between Asia, Europe, North and South America linking the Caribbean and Central America, which will integrate the company and lead to further expansion of the port of Kingston.