Panama a center of Traffic and Transshipment

By Argelis Solís, student of Master in Maritime Business of the Panama International Maritime University.

Going back a little to history we can say that Panama was always a country of traffic and transshipment of merchandise. Reflecting this point we can say that on December 31, 1999 the Panama Canal was transferred to Panamanian hands, being the Authority of the Canal de Panama (ACP) the administrator of this interoceanic route considered for its strategic position as the main logistics and maritime point of the region.

Its connectivity is powered by ports on two oceans, an airline connection center with direct access to more than 30 destinations in 20 countries of the continent, an interoceanic train, a telecommunications network with advanced technology and a financial and commercial center of international quality .

Good service should be given to the ships.

Good service should be given to the ships.

With the expansion of the Canal, Panama allows the passage of larger ships. The port terminals in the region, including the United States, have been adapting their infrastructure to remain competitive in the business, which will have benefits for the region and the world.

Panama, being the owner of the Canal, has the greatest advantage of it and the world-class ports are preparing to aspire to being the first choice of shipping agencies to become the center of operations.

Countries in the region want to capture the cargo that passes through Panama and they are: Colombia, mainly the port of Cartagena, which aims to become a mega port and thus compete with cargo handling in the sector, handling 102 million tons of cargo mainly Import and export in port concessions.

The projected investments in the ports amount to $166 million. The expansion of the ports, like the one in Cartagena, made its expansion in search of panamax ships, but the port remained small, like that of Panama, $450 million for the Port of Buenaventura, $178 million for Barranquilla and $126 million for Santa María, among others.

This strategy was taken so that larger vessels give access to lower freight rates. The port of Buenaventura is the second in the region with $245 million in a modernization plan and seeks to become one of the most competitive in Latin America.

The Port of Balboa is recognized, becoming the hub of cargo distribution especially of the shipping company Maersk. A cargo mobilization policy that involves ports, but also land, air, and a cargo control system must be carried out.

Mexico: a strong competitor has aspirations to become not only an ideal transshipment place, but also the forced passage of cargo through a dry canal, competing with the Panama Canal. Jamaica and Puerto Rico: Competitors of the Panamanian port terminals and Costa Rica, aspire to attract the Panamanian transshipment business.

The Port of Mariel is a competitor of Panama.

The Port of Mariel is a competitor of Panama.

Cuba-Mariel: modernizes its terminal to receive the Neopanamax ships that transit through Panama. Jamaica invested about $5,000 million to adapt its ports just like Costa Rica.

The main user of the Panama Canal is also preparing for the arrival of the largest ships. With the expanded canal, the ports on the east coast of the United States are ready to receive ships of 18,000 TEUs, which may not transit through the expanded Canal.

According to the Canal Authority, the main reasons to explain the growth of the cargo that passes through its facilities are the improvement recorded in international raw material prices and the increase in the demand for the emerging economy.

When implementing the 2030 National Logistics Strategy, it would be a priority to establish that the Logistics Hub depends on sufficient port and airport capacity, since there is no adequate connectivity between the Atlantic and Pacific, ensuring that the cargo moves efficiently and economically, in the five containerized cargo ports, three on the Atlantic and two on the Pacific.

The Atlantic port capacity is 8 million TEUs, while on the Pacific it is 4.5 million TEUs.

As we have mentioned, Panama is and will be the center of transshipment movement and merchandise traffic in the region, given the great advantages we have, but that is not all. We must provide an efficient and quality service to our large customers in both coastal and container movement, which is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Let us ask ourselves, then, does Panama have enough physical space for container storage? Is Panama aware of the challenge to overcome? We leave you with these questions. Good wind and a good sea.

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