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Upturn in transportation and trade expected in 2000

An increase in passenger and cargo traffic throughout the Americas is forecast in 2000, as Latin economies resume their growth pattern. As a result, the region's airports and seaports, airlines and shipping companies are enhancing their services and looking for new opportunities to serve their customers.

A recent white paper from the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean predicts an overall growth rate of 3.6% for the region in 2000, compared with zero growth in 1999. There are already signs of an upturn in Brazil that will be helpful to neighboring countries," said the report.

The ECLAC report, "Equity, Development and Citizenship," cited an average annual growth domestic product (GDP) growth rate of 3.3% between 1990 and 2000, contrasted with a 1.0% rate during the 1980s. The report also cited several countries that were able to weather the Asian crisis particularly well and achieve positive growth in the past three years, including Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba and the countries of Central America. Mexico, for instance, increased its GDP growth at an average rate of 4.3% between 1997 and 1999.

In Florida, the primary trading partner with the Caribbean, South and Central America, nearly 60% of all trade (by value) was oceanborne, a smaller percentage than in 1998, according to a study by Charles Jainarain, president, Greenheart International, a Miami consulting firm. Oceanborne cargo rose by 3% in 1999 from 34.9 million to 35 million metric tons, while airborne cargo declined by 5% from 839,000 to 793,000 metric tons.

"The state's surge in trade with Central America (31% rise in imports) and continuing strength in the Caribbean implies that these nations should be treated as more than trade partners ancillary to larger countries in South America," said Jainarain.

Air Travel

Looking more closely at transportation-related forecasts, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) recently projected a 5.02% annual average growth rate for total scheduled international traffic for the 1999-2003 period. "The picture of passenger growth varies significantly between regions, often driven by the varied economic growth prospects," said the IATA report. For example, the five-year projected growth rate for traffic to and from Brazil was projected at 3.9%, compared with 8.4% twelve months earlier.

Growth in air cargo traffic is expected to parallel passenger growth. The IATA projected a 5.5% average annual growth rate during the same 1999-2003 period.

Use of electronic tickets (e-tickets) and Internet air bookings is rising sharply as travelers throughout the Americas take advantage of new technologies. A worldwide IATA study of more than 1,000 business travelers noted a 100% growth in the number of corporate travelers sourcing flight information and making reservations via the Internet in the past two years.

IATA's 1999 Corporate Air Travel Survey indicated this growth will continue: more than 50% of the corporate air travelers surveyed said they expected to be using the Internet for their travel arrangements by 2004.

International airports throughout the Americas are expanding their passenger and freight facilities to keep up with rising demand. Orlando International Airport was named the number one airport in North America and number two in the world for passenger satisfaction for the third consecutive year by the International Air Transport Association. The airport served more than 29 million passengers in 1999 and 30 million are forecast for 2000. The first phase of a South Terminal Complex, with improved international processing features, will open in 2002. When completed, the airport will have the ability to service 70 million passengers a year. Currently Orlando International Airport is served by more than 80 scheduled and charter carriers, with scheduled nonstop service to 67 U.S. destinations and nonstop service available to 26 international cities. For more information, visit

Airlines serving the region are also adding new flights and passenger services, ACES Airlines is a world-class airline offering non-stop service from Miami to Colombia twice daily. ACES is renowned for its in-flight service, which resembles more of a five-star restaurant than an airline. ACES also has a first class, frequent traveler program, Premium Pass, and is also a member of the LatinPass world-wide frequent flyer alliance. For reservations in the United States, call (800) 846-ACES and in Colombia (547) 511-ACES.

LatinPass is one of the world's first multi-airline frequent traveler alliances. LatinPass members can earn mileage on any of the 10 member airlines as well as partner airlines KLM, TWA, US Airways and newly introduced National Airlines. Members can also receive mileage with stays at several major hotel chains and auto rentals. Call 1-800-44-LATIN or see

Sea Travel

An increase in the volume of oceanborne cargo is also expected in the coming year, in keeping with the stronger growth of Latin economies.

Preliminary 1999 figures on North American ports show a rise in container traffic, according to Rex Sherman, director of research and information services, American Association of Port Authorities, Alexandria, Virginia. The balance of trade flows is beginning to correct itself," he says.

As the push toward privatization continues at many Latin American ports, the key to success is greater efficiency. Reducing costs, improving transit times, speeding customs clearances, and providing quality customer service are the goals of seaports throughout the region.

The Port of Miami is the leading cruise port in the world, and is among the top 10 container ports in the United States. The seaport is also a major economic generator for MiamiDade County, contributing over $8 billion annually to the local economy and supporting approximately 45,000 jobs in the South Florida area.

Geographic proximity and cultural links to Latin America and the Caribbean have been major contributors to the growth of the port. Miami also enjoys an increasing volume of trade with Europe and the Far East, and is laying the foundation for a flourishing trade with emerging markets in the south and west coasts of Africa.

To deliver high-level service to its customers, Seaboard Marine is investing heavily in new equipment and its Port of Miami facilities. The equipment includes new dry containers, reefer containers, flat racks, open tops and chassis, which complement Seaboard's diversified fleet of more than 25 vessels.

At the Port of Miami, Seaboard is enhancing its 75-acre facility that provides shippers with 24-hour, seven-day access. Seaboard, which is the largest shipper at the port, has a dedicated terminal for efficient service. Recent improvements include additional berthing space, the creation of new land, and enhancements to the marshalling and storage areas to produce more usable space. A sophisticated new security system has also been installed.

Seaboard Marine serves ports on the west and north coasts of South America, all of Central America and the Caribbean. Seaboard serves shippers through a network of company offices and proprietary agencies throughout the region.

Other shipping lines are also investing in the region's future. Intermarine, with headquarters in New Orleans, is a leading worldwide provider of ocean transport as well as inland heavy haul transportation services for breakbulk, specialized project and heavy lift cargoes. Its global sailings include regularly scheduled services from the United States and Mexico to/from the Americas, Asia, and other worldwide destinations.

As the managing agent of the vessel operating companies, Industrial Maritime Carriers (USA) and (Bahamas), and Linea Naviera Paramaconi in Venezuela, Intermarine is the largest provider of project and breakbulk cargo transport from the United States to South America and Asia. The company operates a fleet of more than 30 modern multipurpose vessels with cargo capacities up to 35000 cbms and heavy lift capacity in excess of 500 metric tons. Most vessels were built in the 1990s.

The service to the Americas offers up to four sailings per week from the U.S. Gulf to the Caribbean Islands and South America. The line offers weekly service to the North Coast of South America, fortnightly service to the West Coast of South America and monthly service to Brazil and Argentina. Intermarine is an ISO 9002 certified company with offices in Houston, Caracas, Guanta, and Seoul.
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Publication:Latin Trade
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Geographic Code:0LATI
Date:Jun 1, 2000
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