Ambassador Alfonso Múnera to discuss future port and maritime strategies for the Greater Caribbean at annual TOC Americas container trade and transport forum in Colombia
London, 04.08.2014 – TOC Events Worldwide has announced that H.E Ambassador Alfonso Múnera, Secretary General of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) will give a keynote address at the 14th edition of its TOC Americas conference and exhibition, taking place on October 14-16 in Cartagena, Colombia. This will be the first time in Colombia for the pan-Americas’ container trade, shipping and ports event, having previously been held in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Panama and the USA.
Founded in 1994, ACS is the organisation for consultation, cooperation and concerted action in trade, transport, sustainable tourism and natural disasters across the Greater Caribbean, with 25 member countries* and 7 associate member countries**. Ambassador Múnera took up the post of ACS Secretary General in 2012, following a long diplomatic career within the Greater Caribbean region. As Chief Administrative Officer of the Association, and the highest ranking authority within the Secretariat, he is responsible for developing and maintaining political and co-operation relations with member countries and observers, and strengthening institutional and cooperation relationships between the ACS and other third parties.
In his keynote speech on 14 October, Ambassador Múnera will outline ACS’s latest work on port and maritime strategies in the Greater Caribbean. This will include the key findings of a new study by Dutch consultants MTBS, commissioned by ACS in April and funded by the French Development Agency (AFD). The study set out to assess the development of maritime container traffic in the Greater Caribbean, including transhipment trends, with analysis of existing and projected container port infrastructure in the region, taking into consideration the imminent expansion of the Panama Canal. The draft final report was presented on 11 July at an ACS meeting held in collaboration with Puerto de Cartagena, Colombia’s largest container port operator, which also plays host to this year’s TOC Americas. The final report is due out in August.
The broader issue of how maritime container networks for deep sea and regional trade are evolving across the Americas, including the outlook for Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) transhipment operations, will again be a key topic of debate at this year’s TOC Americas.
Historically, both North America and LAC have been oriented more towards direct calls than hub-and-spoke operations (albeit with some notable exceptions). But as charted by speakers at TOC Americas in recent years, a complex interplay of factors is now calling the status quo into question. Among others, this includes Panama Canal expansion, increased vessel size on east-west and north-south trades, shipping alliances and consolidation, growth of near-shoring in Mexico and Central America, new regional trade pacts, and infrastructure developments.
In a special session also on 14 October, a panel of carrier, 3PL and port executives, joined by two expert consultants, will review the key factors impacting carrier network strategies and discuss potential outcomes for the regional port system, including transhipment hubs. The panel will be moderated by Michael Kaasner Kristiansen who, after a 23-year career with A.P. Moller-Maersk, including 4 years as Head of Operations for Latin America & the Caribbean, set up CK Americas in 2012 to provide transport and logistics consulting.
Mr Kristiansen will be joined by panel members Poul Hestbaek, SVP Latin America West Coast & Caribbean for Hamburg Süd – whose Latin footprint is set for growth following the recently-announced deal to acquire Chilean carrier CCNI – Richard Jordan, SVP & Regional Head of Logistics Americas at Panalpina, Giovanni Benedetti, Commercial Director, Sociedad Portuaria Regional Cartagena (SPRC), Enno Koll, Head of Latin America for PSA Panama and Dr Asaf Ashar, Research Professor, National Ports & Waterways Initiative (NPWI).
“We have an outstanding line-up of expert industry practitioners and commentators at this year’s conference to help our audience make sense of what’s happening today and what it means for the future,” said TOC Events Content Director Rachael White. “The chance to hear direct from the Secretary General of ACS adds a vital new dimension to our annual analysis of maritime trade and transport trends across the Americas.”   
Taking place at the Cartagena de Indias Convention Center (CCCI) from 14-16 October, TOC Americas includes the TOC Container Supply Chain conference, Cold Chain conference track on perishable and refrigerated trade and TECH TOC container terminal operations forum. The TOC exhibition running alongside showcases the latest in port services, equipment and technology solutions. 
* Member States of ACS: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela.
**Associate Members of ACS: Aruba, Curacao, (France on behalf of French Guiana, Saint Barthelemy and Saint Martin), Guadeloupe, Martinique, Sint Maarten, The Netherlands on behalf of Bonaire, Saba, and Sint Eustatius, Turks and Caicos.

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