Panama remains the best connected maritime center in Latin America, according to the Maritime Connectivity Index, 2012, prepared by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
The conclusions of the report reveal that this rating is because the country has the presence of 23 shipping companies that move 342 vessels with a total capacity of 1.28 million TEUs, while China, the world’s best connected country, has 1,765 vessels in container line services to and from Chinese ports, with a capacity of 8.96 million TEUs.
Jan Hoffmann, Chief of Trade Facilitation for UNCTAD, said that between mid-2004 and May 2012, the average number of companies that operated container ships in services and from coastal countries has declined by 23%.
During that same period, the source added, the size of ships continued to grow, with the average ship capacity of 2,812 TEUs in 2004 to 5,452 TEUs in 2010, an increase of 94%.
Hoffmann noted that Panama’s position as a hub in Latin America has become evident from the large number of ships deployed on routes from Panama to China (147 container ships), to the United States (182 vessels) and to Colombia (127 ships).
As for the number of direct shipping links, Hoffman noted that Panama was ranked #21, with 52 direct services – to the United States (93), France, China, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Italy, Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, Japan, Morocco, Egypt, India, Malta, and the United Arab Emirates, respectively.
One conclusion that has been given by this new index is that many small developing countries face the dual challenge of having to accommodate larger ships, while having access to fewer regular shipping services to and from the main ports.
Other observations in the analysis is how the industry continues to consolidate, with a decrease in the number of companies by country, while the average ship size grows.
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