Small Islands Have Struggled With Escalating Shipping Costs Since Covid-19.

Public domain stock photo. Small islands suffer when shipping costs increase as it makes all imported goods more expensive.
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Confronted with a situation where shipping costs for small island developing states (SIDS) had risen by 76 per cent, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley said the island grouping continues to face serious global supply chain issues.

Addressing hundreds of delegates attending the inaugural United Nations Trade and Development Global Supply Chain Forum at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, today, Ms. Mottley reminded the forum that ordinary people had been suffering the consequences of the geopolitical tensions and other issues.

The Prime Minister insisted that these tensions continue to negatively impact the movement of goods through major trans-shipment points; had driven up the costs for importers, carriers, and consumers, and had resulted in a re-routing of goods through longer routes, which have had a debilitating effect on SIDS.

She also noted that the small island grouping “pays more than any country grouping for transport, insurance, and maritime imports”.

“The reality is that during the COVID period, transport and insurance costs rose by 76 per cent, when compared with the period before the pandemic…. The data suggests that a recent supply chain crisis led to consumer price increases in small island developing states yet again, that far outstripped those in other developing countries and across the rest of the world.

“Additionally, over the last year, liner connectivity for small island development states has become scarcer. It has fallen by 10 per cent as compared to the world average, which has fallen I think, by about eight per cent.  In other words, we’re the first to lose market share…. We’re the last to be seen and we are the ones who now carry the brunt of the global obsession with the pursuit of a lifestyle that runs contrary to everything that is necessary to save he planet and our civilisation,” Ms. Mottley insisted.

She pointed out that in 2021, Barbados had experienced a number of events influenced by nature and climate that had a significant impact on the island’s housing stock and other buildings and had caused the island’s air and seaports to close for seven and nine days, respectively.

The Prime Minister also disclosed that 38 buildings were closed last year due to environmental problems due to the consequences of fine volcanic dust from the eruption of the La Soufriere volcano in St. Vincent.

As a result of these crises, the Prime Minister stated it was necessary to pursue the Bridgetown Initiative and the “determination to reform the global financial architecture” and to create a fair opportunity for developing countries, whether they are vulnerable middle-income countries or vulnerable small island developing states.

“The ability, therefore, for us to be able to have an inclusive, sustainable, and resilient supply chains matter because we already have significant competing demands for what we must spend our resources on. At the same time, our citizens want to know why the price of certain food has gone up, why the price of certain goods has gone up, what is going on, and the outcry of the populations the world over is the same….

“It is therefore important that we come together in fora such as these to be able to understand significantly how we can make a meaningful difference to moving from the clearly outmoded objectives of the most efficient supply chain to the most resilient supply chain, given all that is happening globally,” Ms. Mottley underlined.

She also touched on the need for air and sea bridges and the expansion of the Bridgetown Port over the next decade, among other topics.

More than 900 delegates from 127 countries, along with ministers, chief executive officers and other officials from across the globe, are attending the four-day forum.

Source: Barbados GIS.
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