Customs and procedures are modernized

By Franklin Castrellón

As a result of concerns expressed in the Logistics Cabinet Permanent Consultative Council and agreements made in the Cabinet, next June the systems and payments made by electronic means will be modernized and will be initiated in the State entities that provide services to imports and exports, particularly to transshipments. This represents about 95% of the cargo handled at Panamanian ports.

Some of the Customs procedures will be done online.

Some of the Customs procedures will be done online.

The good news was confirmed this week to The Bulletin by the President of the Panama Chamber of Shipping (CMP) Rommel Troetsch, who attributed this achievement to the mutual collaboration developed by the Logistics Cabinet and its Advisory Board.

He said that the much-hoped-for modernization of the system will increase Panama’s competitiveness as a hub for transshipment cargo, by speeding up and reducing the costs associated with transshipment charges.

He conceded that the starting point for this collaboration came in the workshop held in October, 2016, to improve Panama’s competitiveness as a transshipment center.

Organized jointly by the Logistics Cabinet and the CMP, the workshop identified three key issues that need to be addressed. They are:

  1. Replacing the photocopies with electronic documents in the Customs, Quarantine and AUPSA procedures. (AUPSA is the Panamanian Authority of Food Security);
  2. Implement payments electronically; and
  3. Not increase costs on the transshipment cargo.

One of the most proactive institutions in this sense has been the National Customs Authority (ANA). Its director general, José Gómez Núñez, announced at the workshop the implementation of electronic seals to ensure greater safety and traceability of the transshipment cargo. By that time, the Customs Management Information System (SIGA) had been completed to process the data of the transhipment cargo under the CUSCAR 11A format, which allows the handling of complete and updated statistics of import and export merchandise.

Starting next June, the electronic documents will replace the photocopies in the procedures that are carried out in the institutions of Customs, Quarantine and AUPSA.

In addition, the corresponding charges may be paid through online payments and electronic transfers (ACH). Troetsch said that the implementation of this modern process will require the modification of some laws that refer to photocopies and cash payments, a simple task that must be completed in the next legislative period.

AUPSA will not increase costs on the transshipment cargo.

AUPSA will not increase costs on the transshipment cargo.

The competitiveness of transshipment operations, coupled with port capacity, are two key elements for Panama to consolidate its role as a regional logistics hub.

In an analysis of the topic entitled “Container Transhipment in Panama: A Perspective of Processes”, the director general of the Georgia Tech Panama Center for Innovation and Logistics Research, Maximiliano Jiménez, warns that the value of a transhipment center is determined by three factors: reliability, speed and cost. And he points out:

“At the macro-level general level, Panama must focus its priorities to boost competitiveness towards improving processes and creating the basis for developing innovations.”

As Panama is in transition to a developed country, according to the World Economic Forum, the main drivers of competitiveness should be the efficiency of processes and the improvement of the quality of products and services.

Panama managed to climb eight positions on the 2016 global FEMA competitiveness ranking to stand 42nd among the most competitive countries, with Chile only nine points ahead, which leads the rankings in the region.

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