The demand for the movement of cargo by sea between North America and the Caribbean has, for more than a quarter of a century, been driven largely by the relationships between Caribbean people in the diaspora and their families and relatives in the island and mainland territories of the region.
In the case of Guyana, the ‘barrel trade’ triggered in the 1980s by the scarcity of a range of consumer items on account of restrictions on imports, grew steadily as locals residing in the United States and Canada and to a lesser extent in the United Kingdom sought to ensure that relatives ‘back home’ were not left to depend entirely on the dictates of a political administration preoccupied with conserving foreign exchange.
The movement of cargo from Guyanese in North America to their relatives at home persists, though the widespread availability of the types of consumer items that once dominated such movement has seen significant shifts in the sector.
Some of the discernable shifts are in the operations of the companies that move cargo to Guyana. Over the years, as the types of goods sought after and shipped from North America to Guyana changed the market has demanded higher standards and the cargo operators whose services sometimes reflected a measure of indifference to consumer requirements, have had to raise their game.
Trinidadian-born Ansel Hall is one of three Directors of Caribbean Cargo DC, a shipping company that is securing increasing attention in the Guyana market. The other two Directors are Guyanese-born Royston De Souza and Bertram Smith. Hall, who visited Guyana recently on a “technical, fact-finding mission” agrees that shippers interested in the Guyana market and in the region as a whole, must respond to changing times. He sees Guyana and the region as a market that is not only “demanding more” but one that continues to open up opportunities for shippers interested in doing business here.
Caribbean Cargo DC, is a licensed and bonded freight forwarding company located in Lanham Maryland, close to Washington DC. Hall, who met Stabroek Business during his recent visit to Guyana says that as far as Guyana and the region are concerned Caribbean Cargo is seeking to build on what it believes is an already “solid reputation in the industry for providing reliable, efficient, and exceptional customer service from the point of origin to destination to all of the Caribbean region.” Hall says that the key to the company’s reputation in the region up to this time has been an “invaluable strategic relationship developed with our consolidators and destination agents.”
Hall says that what Caribbean Cargo has sought to do is to provide the full range of services to its customers, “both at the point of origin and here in Guyana.” The company moves packages ranging from, barrels, bins and boxes to full container loads, providing in the process pickup and delivery services, warehousing and packaging, shipping documentation and container warehousing. According to Hall, over time, the company has established a highly regarded professional relocation service which caters to the diplomatic community among other customers.
Hall says his recent visit to Guyana was designed to help the company secure “a better understanding of a more sophisticated, more demanding market.” He describes the outcome of his visit as “insightful,” pointing out that what he has learnt will inform the strategic thinking of the company as far as engaging the Guyana market is concerned.
“Here in Guyana we are experiencing a valued relationship with D& J Shipping Services under the competent and knowledge leadership of Loretta John. We have seen our business grow in Guyana, year over year and we remain focused on providing an innovative, reliable, hassle free service that meets our customers’ needs.
Not unmindful of the keenness of the competition, Hall says Caribbean Cargo’s goal on the local market is “to be recognized by our customers in Guyana as their preferred service provider in the freight-forwarding industry.”