The Bahamas financial services industry is poised to provide greater services to the country’s growing maritime industry and has taken steps to forge a closer relationship with its industry partners in this sector. A recent initiative was the Bahamas Financial Services Board’s (BFSB) sponsorship of the first **Bahamas International Maritime Conference and Trade Show** which took place in Freeport, Grand Bahama on November 19 to 21.

More than 150 delegates from 11 countries around the world, many of whom have ships registered in The Bahamas, participated in the conference.

With 1,700 plus Bahamian-flagged vessels, owned by some of the world’s major shipping and cruise line companies, The Bahamas is number one in cruise ships and number three in world total tonnage (50 million gross tons) registry.

The conference and trade show was opened by Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Hubert A. Ingraham and International Maritime Organisation Director of Marine Environment Division, Miguel Palameres, delivered the keynote address at the Closing Banquet.

Freeport, a free trade zone and a leader in the maritime industry, is home to the Freeport Container Port, Grand Bahama Shipyard, Freeport Harbour, Bahamas Oil Refining Company, and South Riding Point Holdings.

The Freeport Container Port, operated by Hutchinson Port Holding in conjunction with its industry partner, Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), sits on the deepest port in the region, and reportedly is the 72nd busiest container terminal in the world and the 4th busiest hub for MSC. The Phase V expansion of the Port presently is underway, and will result in the facility’s expansion to include 16 quay cranes, 2 mobile harbour cranes, 94 straddle carriers and more than 1 mile of wharf which represents a 50% increase in capacity at the port.

The Grand Bahama Shipyard – whose development began in 1999 – is a state-of-the-art facility operating two floating dry docks and two wet berths capable of repairing some of the largest and most advanced vessels in the world.

*”The location of these two important maritime-based enterprises in Grand Bahama has proven beneficial to both the investors and to our country,”* the Prime Minister said in addressing conference delegates. *”Indeed, the rapid expansion of operations at the Container Port and at the Shipyard is indicative, I believe, of the economic success of their undertakings.”*

Commenting on BFSB’s support for the event, Wendy Warren, BFSB’s CEO and Executive Director said, *“The Bahamas offers the full range of services in both the maritime and finance industries. The opportunity for institutions and their clients to tap into these global industries in an idyllic environment continues to be quite compelling. The Bahamas sells itself and there is no better way to showcase our business platform than when business partners come to see us. “*

The conference and trade show promoted The Bahamas as a hub of international trade; highlighted the benefits and advantages of the Bahamas International Ship Registry; drew attention to the latest developments and opportunities in the maritime industry; and, explored issues related to local and international investment and financing trends and opportunities.