Trade talks with Honduras ‘sincere’

| 07/09/2016 | 1 Comment
CNS Business

President Juan Orlando Hernandez

(CNS): Increasing flights between Cayman and Honduras, organising direct imports from the Central American country and an undersea telecommunications cable were key issues on the talks agenda when President Juan Orlando Hernandez and his delegation met with Cayman Islands officials here last week. Premier Alden McLaughlin said the bilateral talks which started in Honduras last month were moving forward and confirmed the “sincerity” of the two governments regarding a wider trade partnership and transport connections.

According to a release about the closed-door talks last week, Hernandez said there was “tremendous potential between Cayman Airways Ltd (CAL), Grand Cayman and Honduras”, as he and Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell, who is the tourism minister, discussed creating a small hub in the Cayman Islands for business travellers. Since the initial meeting in Roatan, the tourism ministry has been talking with the private sector about the logistics of increasing Cayman Airways flights to and from Honduras, which lies around 430 miles southwest of Cayman.

CAL currently flies to La Ceiba three times a week and some travellers go through Grand Cayman to continue on to New York, Miami, Kingston and Jamaica.

“The opportunities we’ve seen in creating a small hub in the Cayman Islands are coming to fruition,” Kirkconnell said, adding that the airline had the expertise, the equipment and will soon have the newest fleet in the region when the new 737-Max planes start arriving.

But Hernandez said that his country’s Sosa Airlines would also like to begin flying into Cayman, not to compete but to improve overall connectivity. Kirkconnell said CAL would be interested in supporting other airlines to develop the Cayman hub.

With more traffic between the two countries, the Honduran delegation was interested in eliminating visa requirements between the countries both ways, but because Cayman is a territory that issue is in the hands of the UK. Although the premier said the Cayman government could look into it, he noted that it would be “difficult to navigate because of national security”.

However, while the UK would be required to “weigh in”, he said that if there was the volume of business to justify it, Cayman could expand its visa office.

Getting fresh produce, meat and seafood from Honduras directly to Cayman via air and sea was another issue discussed in the bilateral talks. Honduras Economic Minister Arnaldo Castillo said the country already ships many products, including chicken, eggs and vegetables to Canada, the United States and Europe, and is the world’s largest supplier of sweet potatoes and bell peppers. The country is also investing in the export of chocolate, cacao, goats and lambs.

He said the idea was to “combine the transportation of food with people” to the Cayman Islands. “The Cayman Islands can also help us with the private sector to send goods on to other countries.”

Once the logistics of air travel and food importation are worked out, the two governments have agreed to find ways to fast-track the systems. A delegation from Honduras will be attending Cayman’s agriculture conference next month, where they will be hosting a booth.

According to the government release about the visit, the issue of an undersea telecoms cable between Cayman, Honduras and Miami to help improve communication was also discussed.

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Category: Import/Export, Local Business

Comments (1)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Honduras, the country with the murder capital of the world. Great place to do business.

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