A vision of Panama’s maritime future

By Marijulia Pujol Lloyd

The Panama Chamber of Shipping (CMP) specialized on the Isthmian shipping sector, recently made public its “Country Maritime Future” (“Visión Marítima País 2019-2024”) presenting it to the Presidential candidates of the May general elections. This is an integral, inclusive and objective proposal that seeks that it be taken into account within the government plans of the presidential hopefuls.

According to the CMP document, Panama’s competitive advantage, derived from its geographical position, can only be exploited if the logistics, maritime and port sectors are strengthened, because they are key to the country’s economy, having an impact of 30% and generating more than 289,000 direct and indirect jobs.

The “Country Maritime Vision Country 2019-2024” contains an objective diagnosis that analyzes the reality of the different activities that make up the sector. Based on this diagnosis, an integral and feasible proposal was structured with five specific work pillars, which the CMP requests to be incorporated into the government plan of the next five-year period.

The five work pillars that make up the proposal and are detailed in the document that was presented to the country are:

  1. Strengthening of the institutions and human resources.
  2. Priority infrastructure projects.
  3. Legal framework and strengthening of legal security.
  4. Improve and streamline procedures and administrative transactions.
  5. Negotiation and management of international treaties, always guaranteeing the protection of national interests.

The Panama Chamber of Shipping president, Patricia Velásquez, talking about the Country Maritime Vision said: “We are facing strong regional competition to capture the cargo that reaches our ports and we need to increase our competitiveness and efficiency.”

She added that “the CMP wants to participate in decision-making spaces and she explained to the candidates to the Presidency of the Republic the importance of the sector, aspirations to develop it and how we can participate.

“We need a harmonious collaboration between the key entities and the activities of the guild to guarantee the continuity of the negotiations after the changes of Government.

“It requires regulations and policies that promote the development of the sector, especially legal security that encourages investment and gives stability to our business,” said the CMP leader.

Velasquez pointed out that “being competitive is the key. Only by being at the forefront of technology, with specialized human resources, a solid institutional framework, agile and transparent processes and a legal framework adapted to market trends, will we achieve this.

“It is the responsibility of the new government to work in an articulated manner with the private sector in an area as specialized as the maritime one, and to place the country in a position that allows it to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the market,” she said.

For his part, Rodolfo Sabonge, director and responsible for drawing up the Country Maritime Vision 2019-2024, pointed out that despite the competitive advantages offered by the country; there are alternatives for the use of the Canal and many others for the use of Panama as a transshipment center.

Sabonge said that there are government shortcomings in terms of effectiveness and efficiency that have to do with problems in the procedures, physical infrastructure and technological platforms that do not solve anything.

“To be competitive we have to provide an uninterrupted service with zero delays and meet world class quality standards. “There is no place for improvisation. The service providers need the highest professional level and technical knowledge,” Sabonge said.

The “Country Maritime Vision Country 2019-2024” is the product of the work of a specialized commission that was appointed within the CMP to carry out an analysis of the reality of the sector, generate a diagnosis and make a proposal with action priorities in the short and medium term, focused on addressing the factors that are currently reducing the country’s competitiveness and slowing its growth.

According to official statistical data, Panama is one of the most important logistics centers in the region, with ports on the Caribbean and on the Pacific coasts, as well as having the largest free zone on the continent and the interoceanic canal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *