18 March 2005

Maritime environment important for global trade

There is a growing appreciation of the importance of marine and maritime environment to this country's global competitiveness and to the future of global trade trends.

Transport Minister Jeff Radebe said this in his address yesterday at the 9th National Maritime Conference, which is underway here.

The purpose of the conference is to adopt resolutions on imperative issues in the maritime industry.

Delegates are also expected to make input towards the development of the 2010 Maritime Transport Policy.

"In these circumstances, it is critically important that we identify every aspect of maritime activity within a broader framework of policy imperatives to ensure complementarities and support of different pillars of policy," he said.

Mr Radebe therefore called for the application of a maritime policy framework towards the broader empowerment and democratisation of this country's economy and its people.

"At the same time, I am not suggesting that we are about to embark on a whole new round of discussion documents and round tables.

"We have passed the target dates for establishing the general framework although we have made some progress towards implementation of concrete plans and programmes in a number of areas, much still needs to be done."

Measured against global trade, South African maritime trade in terms of value and volume of cargo either in or out of the country's ports accounts for 3.5 percent.

However, when distance is taken into account and measured in tonne-miles rather than simply tonnes or Dollars it rises to six percent, bringing this country to the top 12 sea-trading nations around the world.

"I would love to see a situation where regulation in our context remains as simple and straightforward as possible with as much red tapes excised as possible and clearest most logical systems put in place," the minister said.

He also highlighted that "there is a tendency in some quarters to encourage regulation as a means to dealing with each and every problem as they arise but we should guard against establishing systems that strangle opportunity and growth development."

Government is currently a major custodian of the maritime environment of this country but it is committed to bring transformation in this sector and open up opportunities to the masses of this country.

"With the combined expertise in numerous government departments and private sector, I am confident that we will succeed," guaranteed the minister.


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