2021, August 1: An interesting (even exciting) Caribbean initiative was announced as the year approached its half-way mark. The InterAmericas Gate, an inter-port economic observatory project, was unveiled on May 11, 2021.
A collaboration of four regional seaports (in French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Saint Martin) and the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) in Jamaica, it will be directed by the Antilles-Guiana Interport Coordination Council (using the initials CCIAG). And it will be managed by the Grand Port Maritime of (French) Guiana, which was also named leader of the group of collaborators. The CMU’s association will be through its Centre for Digital Innovation and Advanced Manufacturing.
The InterAmericas Gate project earned the description ‘exciting’ because of the wide range of objectives it has set itself and the benefits that could accrue to regional shipping with the successful accomplishment of its mission.
The stated objectives are lofty but achievable. They include:
- improving mutual knowledge of the ports of the Greater Caribbean and Guiana;
- facilitating inter-port cooperation to build responses to common challenges; and, in the long term,
- promoting the development of trade and economic exchanges between the territories of region.
This it plans to achieve by sharing reliable information between ports; pooling business intelligence resources; and, by ongoing assessment of the maritime and port economy.
“In the longer term, thanks to these comparative studies, INTERAMERICAS GATE will provide a tool for strategic decision-making on common themes, to optimize inter-port governance and increase the performance of each member,” as stated in the documentation to launch the project.
__________________ Port of Martinique
Initial priorities of the inter-port economic observatory include:
- inventory of maritime routes in the area, statistical aggregation of ports, regulatory, fiscal, customs and health developments,
- market studies for cruises, containers, bulk, cabotage, new sectors,
- socio-economic benefits, port transit costs.
In addition to these priorities, the observatory’s study themes will be extended to include the environment, climate and operating techniques.
The ultimate objective is to extend the agreements to other ports in the Caribbean, Latin America and Central America, with the expectation of establishing relations that will formally associate them with the Observatory.
The economic observatory’s mission is to provide its current and future members with information, including:
- regular update of maritime routes in the region,
- reliable, detailed and aggregated port traffic,
- a cartographic visualization tool, useful to other partners in each territory,
- bi-annual notes by sector.
_________________ St.. Martin
In this regard, the observatory will need to identify and collect a significant amount of data including characteristics of ports, including plans, regulations and physical characteristics. It will also need to access and pass on information about the environment including water quality, biodiversity and ship emissions.
Ultimately, the expectations are that InterAmericas Gate will be a significant factor in the creation of an environment conducive to the development of a sustainable business flow between the territories in the Caribbean region. It is expected to drive the establishment of about twenty systems for observation, management and response to natural hazards in the Caribbean. It is also expected greatly assist in the development of Caribbean ecotourism.
Financed by INTERREG Caribbean, the total cost of the project is €585,625.00. INTERREG Caribbean is a European Territorial Cooperation program allowing operators in Guadeloupe, Guiana, Martinique and Saint-Martin to implement win-win projects with their neighbours in the Caribbean. This allowed the INTERAMERICAS GATE project to be extended to the Greater Caribbean and made it possible to integrate an extra-community partner, the CMU.
SIX STRATEGIC PRIORITIES
The programme includes six strategic priorities:
- Strengthening the competitiveness of businesses through the implementation of joint Caribbean-wide projects in research, training and businesses.
- Strengthening the response capacity to natural hazards.
- Protecting the cultural and natural environment
- Responding to common health issues through innovative actions in e-health.
- Supporting development of renewable energies with the OECS countries.
- Strengthening human capital by developing training in Caribbean languages (English, Spanish, French); as well as student and professional mobility within the Caribbean region. 
Q & A
For clarification 4 posed the following questions and received responses from the Antilles-Guiana Interport Coordination Council
Q1: Regarding OWNERSHIP, is InterAmericas Gate a private corporate venture?
InterAmericas Gate aims to set up a sustainable port economic observatory. The GPM Guyane is appointed as lead partner. It is an inter-port cooperation approach of the three Port Authorities, members of the CCIAG (Antilles-Guyane Interport Coordination Council): French Guiana, Guadeloupe and Martinique. With a commitment also of the Port of Saint-Martin (Galisbay). The Caribbean Maritime University is our extra-community partner, through its Digital Innovation and Advanced Manufacturing department, as part of their partnership agreement with PMAC signed in 2019 in Miami.
Is InterAmericas Gate a not-for-profit project?
At the moment this is a not-for-profit project. In the long term when the digital tool is developed, we will see how the partners position themselves (by convention) for access to information on the digital platform
Are the partners (the four ports and CMU) considered ‘owners’ or ‘shareholders’?
The four partners have signed a partnership agreement within the framework of the Interreg Caraibes funding programme (Interreg Caraïbes) and are therefore considered as founding members of the InterAmericas Gate observatory
Q2: Regarding AIMS, your documentation stated: “This grouping aims to develop an inter-port cooperation tool … “.
Describe / explain this proposed “tool”.
This observatory will allow ports making data available to visualize and monitor maritime, port, economic and environmental indicators with high added value, serving shared challenges. This port cooperation approach within the wider Caribbean is also a lever for the development of trade in the area.
First items that will be available:
- Detailed, aggregated and reliable port traffic: Containers (teu), cruise lines (transit /based pax, tonnages)
- Up-to-date regular shipping lines (Regular container lines, light vehicles (car carrier, cruises Rotation, ships, transit time)
- Biannual notes by sector (Note deciphering a sector in the Caribbean, its market, its trends, with flow mapping).
Q3: Regarding OBJECTIVES, your documentation mentioned plans to “… pool”. Does ‘pool’ and ‘intelligence resources’ mean connecting technologies and systems?
InterAmericas aims to:
- Improve the mutual knowledge of the ports of the wider Caribbean and increase their performance,
- Facilitate exchanges between ports with the aim of co-constructing responses to common challenges,
- Identify intra-regional trade opportunities
InterAmericas Gate will be based on an evolving online tool for sharing, analyzing and visualizing economic, operational, social and environmental information between ports from the Guiana Shield to the Caribbean.
Q4: Regarding DATA sources, storage and access, your documentation stated: “To be effective, the Observatory will have to collect a great deal of data.” Data from whom, the partners only?
Tests and version 1 will include ports of French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint-Martin and Jamaica then integration of ports partners. Promote and extend the agreements already in place between the Ports of the Antilles-Guyane Interport Coordination Council (CCIA) and the Caribbean, central America and Latin America (Suriname, Amapá, Para, Guyana) Port members of the Port Management Association of the Caribbean and the Caribbean Shipping Association, Trinidad, Panama, etc.