Former Prime Minister of Dominica and Chairman of the Louisana-based, Global Shipping Corporation, Oliver Seraphin, has presented the government of Dominica with a proposal to transport agricultural produce to the island’s trading partners.
A container ship, American Liberty, valued at US$1.2-million, is currently docked in Dominica while Seraphin negotiates with the government on the proposal.
The ship can hold up to two refrigerated 40-foot containers, or four 20-foot containers, has roll-on/roll-off technology for movement of cargo, and contains sleeping quarters for eight persons.
The corporation seeks to facilitate the movement of agricultural produce between Dominica and its export partners.
“We have offered the government of Dominica a business plan conceptually to do a marketing strategy for carrying the agricultural produce from farmers here to the respective territories, for which they have contractual obligations,” Seraphin told Dominica News Online during a visit to the ship. “We have given the government of Dominica an offer, that they could join forces with us, as a private-public sector partnership. That offer… it’s our priority.”
The process, he explained, could be of great use to the government, especially now that an abbatoir is set to open, for which the government will require imported resources. Food for the animals, for example, can be obtained from the Dominican Republic, which is part of the ship’s route, Seraphin explained.
“We anticipate that we will be doing the area from Dominica’s north, as far as up to the Virgin Islands (BVI), and particularly, the Dominican Republic,” he stated. “We have already entered into the discussions and negotiations with merchants that have products that they would move from the Dominica Republic, including the government that has now the abattoir, they would need feed, which we could obtain from that area as well.”
However, Seraphin noted that the corporation does not wish to compete with local forms of export for their traditional routes. In fact, he stated that the ship wishes to transport cargo along the lesser-travelled routes to areas like the Virgin Islands and Trinidad.
“We are particularly conscious of the fact that there are a number of local ship owners, especially from Portsmouth, and we have absolutely no intention of competing with them with their traditional routes,” he explained. “What we are expecting to do would be to supplement what is required, by giving a sophisticated level of quality shipping, particularly to the U.S.V.I. and B.V.I., and Santo Domingo, etcetera. And, also, our ports… are not in competition at all to the local cargo industry, because we believe that we’re not here to threaten their livelihood. We’re here to add comfort to the farmers’ produce, and to give them an exit for the agricultural produce externally.”
Despite a positive response to the offer from Prime Minster, Roosevelt Skerrit, discussions with the government are ongoing, Seraphin noted.
“At this time, discussions are ongoing. The Prime Minister has indicated his positive communication with us that they are prepared to work with our effort, as Dominica had wanted a boat for some years and now they have one,” Seraphin concluded.
Gloria Tavernier/Network Trading Inc. was named as the local agent for Global Shipping Corporation.
A vessel for transporting agricultural produce has been discussed by the government for years now.
As recently as May 14, 2o15 Minister for Trade, Ian Douglas, said that a vessel to export Dominica’s agricultural produce is no pie in the sky promise.
In October 2013, the government announced that it was in contact with a group of vessel operators to determine all the issues to be considered in acquiring a vessel primarily for transporting Dominica’s agricultural commodities.
At a press conference on Monday, October 21st, 2013, Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit said that the availability of a cargo vessel will enable hucksters and companies involved in the trade of agricultural goods to take advantage of markets in the south of the Caribbean.
However, it appears none of these efforts have come to fruition.
See photos from the ship below.