Florida shipper magazine
The U.S. Department of Commerce says that Florida's exports to Suriname are up an impressive 53 percent in 1Q03, but SeaFreight Line's vice president, David Ross, could have told you that. When naming the islands where SeaFreight business has grown this past year, he noted that there's been "some extraordinary growth in Suriname." Ross said that concentrating on developing their business at the port of Jacksonville has proven to be a success for the company (as well).
Last year, SeaFreight shipped approximately 20,000 TEUS and they are slightly ahead on volume for this year. SeaFreight can probably thank their customers for some of that growth. In the midst of the Caribbean's slow, rainy season, the company last month added Barbados onto their schedule. With a rotation that begins in Jacksonville, then (Port Everglades) with calls on Jamaica, Aruba, Curacao, Venezuela, Trinidad, Barbados, Suriname and Guyana before rotating back. SeaFreight added Barbados after requests from both island ports and island customers.
Like many other companies operating in that region, SeaFreight has had to look for ways to make up the business lost to a shrinking economy. In SeaFreight's case, one of its biggest port-of-calls has dropped a huge amount of business (Venezuela). While Ross projects SeaFreight's Venezuelan trade to be down 50 percent, U.S. commerce figures show an even bigger drop - down 71 percent in 1Q03. No other trading partner of Florida has decreased more, and it's hard to compensate for that loss. Ross hints that SeaFreight has "a couple of other ports on the drawing board," though he declined to name specifics. They're focusing on islands where the "economy might be a little more buoyant," he stated diplomatically.