Shipping | Technology takes focus on final day of CSA conference
The Caribbean Shipping Executives’ Conference (CSEC) concluded its 20th conference on May 25 following presentations on the future of the industry focusing on technology, including digitisation, smart ports, and the cyber disconnect. The second of the two-day staging also put emphasis on mentorship and equality, the impact of the pandemic, and the war in Ukraine.
General manager of the Caribbean Shipping Association (CSA), Milaika Capella Ras, in her opening remarks, noted that the sessions were aimed at collaboration and the exchange of ideas to collectively advance the industry.
The day’s discussion began with the ‘Electronic Bill of Lading – Digitising Documentation In Our Industry’, which was delivered by Roman Ramirez, sales operations director at ZIM Integrated Shipping Services Limited. Encouraging more entities to embrace digitisation, he said the process had several advantages, including simplifying processes, reducing costs, and promoting sustainability by reducing the use of paper globally.
That session was followed by an engaging conversation around ‘Mentorship and Woman Equality’ in the shipping industry and the role played by those employed in it. The panel included Jennifer Nugent-Hill, director of Governmental and Community Affairs at Tropical Shipping; Tamara Lowe, president of Women in Maritime Association Caribbean (WiMAC); Professor Opal Palmer Adisa of Adisa Consultancy; and Wendy Fox, accounting general manager at Tropical Shipping. The session was moderated by Corah Ann Robertson Sylvester, CEO at Seaboard Jamaica and CSA past president.
In her presentation, Professor Palmer noted that there are generally few women in top administrative positions and that they often feel isolated and can easily be singled out. She said effectively negotiating the “gender minefield” includes being aware of internalised biases, working to unlearn old gender dynamics, and seeking out other successful women to learn from.
On the topic of ‘The Ongoing Cyber Disconnect: Why Maritime Leaders Need To Take Action Now’, presenters Chris Bhatt, chief commercial officer at Transportation & Logistics Aon; Scott Dickerson, global cyber ambassador for CMA CGM; and moderator Max Bobys, vice-president of Hudson Cyber, said the impact of cyberattacks is costly, disruptive to operations, and has the potential to create further liability when sensitive data is breached. They said cyber- risk efforts need the engagement of teams, beginning with leaders in every area of the organisation.
The technology dialogue continued with a presentation on ‘Smart Ports: Working on Sustainable Development of Ports’ by Andy Hecker, managing port director and chief financial officer of Port Miami, and moderated by Albert Elens, managing director of Maduro Shipping. Hecker said a smart port is more than the incorporation of technology, digitalisation, and artificial intelligence and must offer a secure supply chain, cargo visibility, cost-competitiveness, and be environmentally sustainable.
A concentrated panel discussion on ‘The Effect of the Global Crisis on The Caribbean; The COVID-19 pandemic and the Looming War Escalation in Ukraine’ followed. The panel included speakers Dr Jean-Paul Rodrigue, professor at The Hofstra University New York; Philip Gray, partner at Grayship; Mike Maura, CEO and director at Nassau Cruise Port Limited; and Donald Brown, vice-president for maritime policy at Cruise Lines International Association. The session was moderated by Mark Williams, CEO of Kingston Wharves Limited, and CSA Group B chairman. In his presentation, Gray noted that the dominant drivers of increased freight rates and carrier profits over the past two years have been container system inefficiencies, disruptions and port congestion, which were further affected by pandemic restrictions.
Despite those shortcomings, Maura noted that the cruise industry’s recovery continues with over six million cruise passengers visiting the Caribbean since June 2021 and cruise lines reporting that demand exceeds 2019 levels.
The day’s presentations ended with a discussion on trade facilitation by Dr Patrick Antoine who said the current state of play is characterised by lengthy and cumbersome border procedures, high freight costs, low levels of port efficiency and operational capacity, and inadequate safety and security for the informal shipping sector. He also noted that transportation and logistics form a significant component of regional supply chains as it affects efficiency and cost structures of businesses.
The CSA will stage its next meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in October 2022.