ACP and UP Agreement to raise debate on Canal

A broad cooperation agreement signed between the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) and the Panama University (UP) will raise to the academic level the debate on the role of the Canal in world trade and as a driving force for the country’s economic and social development , Luis Navas P., director of the university’s Canal Institute (ICUP) told The Bulletin after the signing on June 2, 2017.

The agreement was signed in the rectory of the UP by the administrator of the ACP, Jorge Quijano, and the rector of the leading university of the country, Eduardo Flores Castro.

Canal Authority administrator, Jorge Quijano and the rector of the Panama University, Eduardo Flores Castro, sign the cooperation agreement, in the presence of the Canal Institute director, Luis Navas P. (left) and other senior UP officials.

Canal Authority administrator, Jorge Quijano and the rector of the Panama University, Eduardo Flores Castro, sign the cooperation agreement, in the presence of the Canal Institute director, Luis Navas P. (left) and other senior UP officials.

In announcing the agreement, the ACP said that it will allow both entities “to exchange knowledge, information and specialists and to develop joint projects for national development”.

The ICUP will be responsible for carrying out the terms of the agreement, representing the UP, in coordination with the Canal administration.

Quijano said that “both the Canal and the Panama University are entities focused on research and analysis, and have professionals from multiple disciplines, so sharing experiences will contribute to promote knowledge on issues important to the country.”

Both Flores and Quijano acknowledged the importance of research and university teaching centers for the country, as well as the need to consolidate and expand knowledge about the Canal in the university community and the rest of the country. The agreement, which will be in effect for four years after its endorsement by the Comptroller, will have the scope that the ACP allows, said an ICUP source, pointing out that ideally it could include the participation of the university in consultancies contracted by the ACP and the training and development of its staff.

Recognizing the “historic importance” of the agreement, coinciding this year with the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Torrijos-Carter Treaties, Navas underlined that this constitutes a decisive step towards the integration of the Canal with the university and, through it, with the Panamanian people. “This approach,” he added, “will bring world-class ACP practices into teaching classrooms and, therefore, to the country’s professionals.”

According to experts from the maritime community, this ACP-University link in Panama will help the canal agency to be in tune with the concerns of the country’s most important academic community, thereby ensuring that the canal agency has feedback of the aspirations of academia, professionals, students and public sectors.

Future projects

Emulating the experience with the Technological University in the series of forums and conferences of the ‘80s and ‘90s called “Vision of the Canal and its Future”, the ICUP could be the ideal forum to analyze and discuss the projects designed by the canal agency to add value to the Panamanian route with a view to optimizing the use of Panama’s geographical position and its connectivity with more than 144 ports worldwide.

So far, the ACP has announced four projects to this end. They are the construction and operation of a port terminal in Corozal, the development of a 1,200-hectare logistics park on the west bank of the Pacific entrance to the Canal, the construction and operation of a terminal for liquefied natural gas (LNG) vessels on the Pacific coast of the Canal and the development of a photovoltaic generation plant.

The most advanced of these projects is the port of Corozal, but the bidding process has been blocked with legal remedies by the port operator of Balboa (Hutchison Port Holdings) which aims to consolidate its monopoly on Pacific-Atlantic rail connectivity. Four global operators have expressed interest in developing the Corozal project, but declined to submit proposals on expiration of the period on March 3, due to costs in terms and delays of the Supreme Court in resolving legal remedies.

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