GOAL 2 – MAXIMIZE BENEFIT OF PORT OF AMERICA IN PONCE
The Port of the Americas is widely regarded as an underutilized, but substantial resource for the entire region. The port has unique capabilities including roll on and roll off capability for vehicle transportation and ample room for shipbuilding, ship retrofitting, and even ship dismantling operations. However, issues of ownership and administration have plagued the port for years. Now it is under one controlling entity and is poised to finally reach its potential. The following three action steps should be taken:
IDENTIFY OPPORTUNITIES FOR CONTAINER TRANSSHIPMENT BY UTILIZING THE REGION’S FOREIGN TRADE ZONE
Foreign Trade Zone (number 163) containing 291 acres, is divided into four locations, including the Port of the Americas in Ponce, the Mercedita Industrial Park, the Port of Guayanilla, and an industrial area in Guayanilla. Starting with the Ponce Port and working with both Port administration and the Puerto Rico Ports Authority, thoroughly investigate potential transshipment opportunities, starting in the Caribbean, then in order, Central America, South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Develop and distribute research on advantages of the Foreign Trade Zone, the Port of the Americas, and southern Puerto Rico while concurrently identify and seek funding via grants and/or public private partnerships to meet facility and equipment needs for robust transshipment operations. As noted in “Weaknesses,” this strategy may be challenging because of regulatory and market timing issues based on Post-Panamax opportunities.
FEASIBILITY ANALYSIS AND STRATEGY TO DEVELOP A SHIP DISMANTLING OPERATION (GHOST FLEET)
The advent of increasingly larger container ships coupled with increases in average age of the global fleet, now over 20 years old, has led to significant demand for ship repair, retrofitting, and dismantling. Dismantling is most feasible because the Port of the Americas does not have a drydock, necessary for repair and retrofitting. A feasibility analysis should be conducted to evaluate the market, current port facilities, and opportunities for competitive entry by the Ponce and/or Guayanilla, which has a small drydock.
DEVELOP SHIPBUILDING OPPORTUNITIES UNDER THE JONES ACT, BEGINNING WITH WORKFORCE TRAINING
The Jones Act, passed in the aftermath of World War I, was intended to enhance national security by requiring goods moved between U.S. ports to only use U.S. built, registered, and crewed ships. While there are costs associated with the act, one advantage is that it protects the market for U.S. Shipbuilders. An industry that produces $14.0 billion in annual economic output and 84,000 jobs in U.S. shipyards. The industry remains very competitive, therefore developing a highly trained workforce is essential to gain certification and attract shipbuilding companies. Planning a robust 33 training initiative and using that as a foundation to obtain certification and attract shipbuilders will create the foundation for the Ports in Ponce and Guayanilla.
GOAL 2 – METRICS TO MONITOR