LOGISTICS FORUM DISCUSSES CHALLENGE OF ENLARGED CANAL

Por: José Díaz

A Logistics Council will in future meet every two months to discuss progress and future developments in creating a Panama logistics hub ahead of the completion of Panama Canal expansion in 2014.

For now, members of this Council are the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MICI), the National Secretariat of Science, Technology and Innovation (SENACYT), the Secretariat of the Metro, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP), the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP), The Ministry of Economy and Finance, the National Customs Authority and the Secretariat of Economic Affairs.

In presenting the Logistics Forum of Panama on February 16, Council members discussed the challenges and needs faced by a sector that represents 24% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The Salon of the Sheraton Hotel in Panama City where the Logistic Forum took place.

The Salon of the Sheraton Hotel in Panama City where the Logistic Forum took place.

The National Secretary of SENACYT, Ruben Berrocal, welcomed those attending the Logistics Forum with a question: “What does Panama need to become a hub?” He ventured to answer his own question: “The logistics sector requires coordination of air, sea and land transport. This means that all sectors have an influence on the achievement of what should be a hub: the Metro, Metrobus, Tocumen and other airports, as well as the railway sector, in which we have fallen short. If we can develop these sectors, we could move logistics from a 24% to a 35% contribution to the GDP.”

Mr. Ricardo Quijano, Minister of Commerce and Industry surrounded by journalists.

Mr. Ricardo Quijano, Minister of Commerce and Industry surrounded by journalists.

Dr. Berrocal stressed especially the importance of creating synergies between institutions, “SENACYT and the private sector have taken important steps to promote public-private partnerships, and this Logistics forum is a key example of how sectors can collaborate with excellent research institutions to build capacity and transfer knowledge.” Berrocal was referring to the Georgia Tech Logistics Research Center of Panama, which has just developed a portal through which it aims to increase turnover (www.gatech.pa).

Panama aims to become the largest logistics platform in the Americas. To achieve and ensure the stability of its services, the country is facing four challenges: “Having human resources to meet demand, as experts warn; executing trade with the best global techniques, in which it has to invest in research and development of new technologies; find an added value on goods; and create new ports on the Atlantic and Pacific,” said Berrocal.

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