Strike cuts Panama’s port growth to only 0.6%

The illegal strike of more than a week in July at the ports of Balboa and Cristóbal (Hutchison Ports PPC) had its first effects on the movement of containers in the Panamanian port system when its growth was reduced to only 0.6% in the first seven months of the year, compared to the same period of the previous year, according to official figures.

Two of the five container port terminals recorded negative numbers in their volumes in July, which affected the decrease in total volumes.

However, the outlook could change in the last four months of the year as a result of the ravages of Hurricane Dorian, which hit Freeport, Bahamas.

International media consider that this would cause the cargo to be relocated to other transshipment centers in the region, such as the Caucedo terminals, in the Dominican Republic and Colon, in Panama. Similar situations have occurred in previous years benefiting the Colon port complex, consisting of Cristobal (Hutchison Ports PPC), Colon Container Terminal (CCT) and Manzanillo International Terminal (MIT).

Colon, leader in Latin America

In fact, despite the strike and its impact on growth, the Colon port complex maintains leadership in the container movement in Latin America, up until July, with a cumulative 2,363,777 TEUs.

Its closest rival in the region, the port of Santos in Brazil, reached the figure of 2,303,394 TEUs in the same period in second position of this ranking.

However, Santos had a 2.6% growth in container transfer in the first seven months and Colon fell by 1.75%, basically because the ports of Cristóbal – operated by Hutchison Ports PPC and Colon Container Terminal (CCT) – decreased by 31.9% and 1.2%, respectively.

That way, Colon’s growth was only pushed by MIT with 9.8%.

Pacific Ocean ports

The port complex of the Pacific coast of Panama, which includes Balboa and PSA Panama, grew, as a whole, by 2.49%. However, it was not enough to pass the port of Manzanillo in Mexico, which occupies the third position of the ranking, because it increased 3% in its volume of containers, but in the transshipment segment it decreased 15.1% compared to the same period of the previous year.

This is because the transfer segment represented 30% for Manzanillo in Mexico as of July 2019, while in 2018 it represented 36.4% of its total volumes.

Another port with relevant operations on the Pacific is Lázaro Cárdenas, in Mexico, which has two important port operators and which grew 15.4% as of July this year and increased in transshipment of containers by 62.9%.

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