Hafa Adai! As science, medicine and technology work around the clock to transform the turbulent chain of COVID variants into a more manageable endemic, it will be up to business and government to close transportation gaps and reinforce fragilities. that the pandemic has brought to light across the world of commerce.
Closed storefronts, laid-off workers, the issuance of trillions of dollars in emergency federal aid, and the inevitable inflation that follows. Canceled air routes, clogged seaports, delayed shipments and the inexorable reality of dwindling inventory and empty store shelves.
Yes, business, finance and government need to build resilience in local and regional economies that have been ill-prepared for the sequence of institutional lockdowns and supply chain disruptions that have coincided with the rise of the novel coronavirus.
COVID has disrupted global travel and shut down businesses all over the planet. It has destroyed assumptions about sustainable inventory and supply lines, spawned rapid advancements in circumvention technologies, and fundamentally changed the way we live our lives and interact with each other.
More importantly, the pandemic has laid bare the gaps in health security and exposed the inherent vulnerabilities of the once vaunted just-in-time logistics standard. Missing medicines and emptied warehouses have caused us to search inward for local answers to some of our toughest questions about the real robustness and redundancy of our existing systems of trade, commerce and emergency response.
Rethinking the waterfront
While air freight accounts for a significant portion of finished goods reaching the Western Pacific from remote terminals, most cargo arrives in our region by surface transportation from the continental United States. But, given the “tyranny of distance” between here and there and the growing demand from Micronesian creeks for epicurean food products grown, aged, dried and packaged closer to home, I put on my top hat. form as Chairman of the Governor’s Economic Council. Strategic advice to deepen this promising regional niche.
After all, an immediate supply of high-quality goods and infrastructure is fundamental to the sustainability of an attractive tourism industry.
Assuming cooperation with our brothers and sisters residing in the islands of Magnificent Micronesia, my teams and I are now exploring whether it might make sense to promote a Southeast Asia-Western Pacific trade route that would support Governor Lou’s vision. Leon Guerrero for Regional Food Security.
Among the islands of Micronesia, geographically speaking, Palau enjoys a unique seat at the forefront of large-scale transit hubs serving hundreds of millions of people across the Philippines, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. And the wider export markets of these islands serve hundreds of millions more.
The Philippine-Indonesian-Papuan group of islands in Southeast Asia exports electronics, household appliances, wooden objects and furniture, oil and gas, minerals, rubber, gold , copper, palm oil, coconut, coffee, pineapple and seafood.
And just south of these populated archipelagos are Australia and New Zealand, which are celebrated in world markets for their high-quality meats, butters, creams, milks, wines, cheeses, crackers and biscuits.
In theory, Palau could serve as the Western Pacific’s window to this galaxy of destinations that includes the Malay Archipelago and the sub-region known as “Down Under…and a Bit To The Right.” And Koror could quickly become a mini-hub for transshipping goods to and from Micronesia.
Developing the role
Additionally, in cooperation with Palau, Guam could expand its role as a processing and transshipment hub for the redistribution of raw materials and finished goods from the South Pacific to Greater Micronesia and could even become a center for manufacturing, assembly and final stage packaging.
Given the cost in time and transportation to receive tonnage from North America and anticipating the increased post-COVID purchasing power of Micronesians with increasingly discerning tastes, we would be remiss to ignore the windfall of market opportunity associated with trade near the islands of Magnificent Micronesia.
Additionally, linking Micronesia with stronger trade and transportation systems could encourage the development of agricultural cooperation and food abundance as well as cottage industries that produce locally made items for export. Such initiatives could also generate more interest in inter-island tours, cross-cultural exchanges and the development of multi-destination businesses.
Time is money, and when we’re faster to market, we’re faster to earn and rebuild the wealth we’ve all sacrificed in the name of health security throughout the era. COVID.