TTMA troubled by port delays affecting trade

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

A cargo ship docked at the Port of Port of Spain. – File photo/Jeff Mayers

THE Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA) has said it is troubled by port delays which are hurting trade.

The TTMA has identified lengthy customs delays at airports, ocean bonds and transit sheds.

In a statement on Friday, it said this poses a significant challenge to the ease of doing business.

TTMA president Roger Roach said manufacturers have experienced abnormally long customs delays, with a two-three-week customs appointment time at some bonds and transit sheds to examine cargo.

“This in turn has a significant negative impact on trade and manufacturing.

“The continued closure of ocean cargo at Swissport and complete closure of Medway for the last six months continues to have a negative impact on the country’s ease of doing business.”

He said manufacturers continue to incur rent and demurrage charges, coupled with the existing concern of rising prices. After being closed since mid-August, he said he understands Swissport’s air cargo has resumed operations, and there is currently a limited ocean cargo at ABL Bond.

“We also note air freight cargo that is being stored at Swissport Bond is taking up to two weeks, based on an appointment after the arrival of the goods.

“The association is eager to see what impact the most recent reopening will have on alleviating wait time. However, the Medway bond in Freeport remains closed since March 2023 and ABL Bond is not allowing ocean cargo.

“The continued closure of the ocean cargo at these bond facilities has led to a three-four-week customs appointment time due to backlog at PLIPDECO.”

Highlighting the need for an improved relationship with Customs and Excise, Roach said, “Unfortunately, attempts to reach the Comptroller of Customs and Excise have been met with no response.“TTMA looks forward to re-establishing a healthy working relationship with the office which the association has experienced in the past in order to address this challenge and similar concerns that impact trade facilitation at the country’s ports.”