Crowley VP sees rebound for Puerto Rico market
Rob Grune, the senior vice president and general manager of Puerto Rico/Caribbean for Crowley Liner Services, says that after a 'challenging year' in 2006, the Puerto Rico trade appears to be stabilizing and should see a slow but steady improvement through 2007.
'The market seems to have settled down,' Grune told the Florida Connection, in large part because the commonwealth's budget crisis that led to a six-week layoff for most government workers during the first quarter of the year ended with the passage and implementation of a sales tax. The new sales tax took effect in November.
The budget crisis and an overall slow economy led to a drop-off in cargo volumes in 2006. The new car market was hit especially hard, Grune noted, with volumes shipped down some 30 percent.
'We did less (overall) in 2006 than in 2005, but we're cautiously optimistic things have settled down as the tax is accepted and as the shock of that wears off in 2007 we'll see a slow and steady return to better market conditions.'
Grune is also optimistic about the ongoing waterfront improvement program underway in San Juan, which he said is especially beneficial to Crowley, which has its own terminal in the Isla Grande zone of San Juan Harbor, adjacent to the new convention center and improved cruise terminals. The waterfront improvements also include a major new hotel and apartment complexes that are now under construction.
The improvements not only help the overall economy, but have helped the Isla Grande area with a clean appearance and good road access.
Other carriers in the Puerto Rico trade use the common user terminal facilities in the harbor's Puerto Nuevo zone.