The “Mesoamerica” project, ports and international maritime trade as regional integration modes in the Caribbean

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Lidia Fromm Cea-photo_tailleOKUnder the mandate of periodic Tuxtla Presidential Summits, the Mesoamerica Integration and Development Project is a high-level political space for coordination and dialogue on cooperation, development and priority projects in 8 sectors that improve living conditions of mesoamerican citizens in the ten member countries that come together to discuss and define regional development priorities and policies that complement national development plans.
The 2008 Tuxtla Presidential Summit instructed to implement a project for short-distance transport by sea. Mesoamerican transport authorities carried out a Regional Assessment of Port Performance and Connectivity in 49 ports to design a short sea-shipping system to accelerate intra-regional trade, reduce land freight traffic and raise the region´s overall competitiveness index. The Assessment indicated that ports suffer all sorts of different kinds of disruptions that cause havoc within the supply chain and elevate costs that hinder the region’s competitiveness-from bad weather, strikes or labor disputes, earthquakes and natural disasters, port congestion, disease outbreaks, travel warnings and geopolitical issues to holidays and even terrorism.
The Assessment delivered a series of recommendations that Mesoamerica has started to implement. These recommendations are the following:
•    Minimize risk of disruptions on ports
•    Streamline port operations to be more efficient
•    Work regionally to integrate customs among the countries
•    Design a regional policy for multimodal transportation and ensure connectivity
•    Create nautical charts
•    Engage in reform to reduce logistics costs
•    Carry out capacity development in staff; South-South cooperation is just perfect for this.
Under the light of this successful regional experience, and considering the challenges that globalization poses for the Caribbeans, a new question has emerged from these discussions: can Mesoamerican and Caribbean countries jointly design and implement an inter-regional multimodal transport network to foster trade among our regions and trigger inclusive economic growth for our countries?

Lidia Fromm Cea is a recognized academic and international speaker, with a solid experience in development. Her professional background is linked to the Honduran Government, where she served as Viceminister for Social Policies in the Ministry for Social Development. She also served as Director General for Development Cooperation in the Ministry for Planning and Development Cooperation, where she promoted a web-based information platform that makes aid transparent and also represented countries in the region during the negotiations of the Busan Outcome Document and the institutional arrangements of the new Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation. Previously, she worked for international cooperation agencies such as the World Bank in Honduras, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), KfW Development Bank and the German Technical Cooperation Agency (GIZ) in Honduras.
Always in the international field, she has been a guest lecturer on different topics, such as Development Cooperation and Aid Efficiency, Human Development and Education in different countries like Germany, Dominican Republic, Korea and Central America. She is author of specialized through the Educational and Cultural Coordination Central American Integration System (SICA/CECC).
As of January 2015, she is the Executive Director of the Mesoamérica Integration and Development Project, which is a high-level political space for coordination and dialogue on cooperation, development and priority projects in 8 sectors that improve living conditions of mesoamerican citizens in the ten member countries.

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