Panama needs more ports

Not only should the port of Corozal be carried ahead immediately, but more ports and infrastructure are needed to exploit the Canal expansion.

This is the opinion of businessmen in the logistics sector, who are unanimous: the opening of the new and expanded Panama Canal locks should be the starting point of the consolidation of Panama as a major logistics hub for the hemisphere.

They note that already there is a lack of dock space – especially on the Pacific – to meet the demand of shipping lines for transshipment operations.

The Canal expansion will increase the country’s attractiveness as a logistics hub, but the increased flow of cargo expected requires more docks and other related infrastructure to take advantage of this demand. If Panama does not increase its offer of port services, there are other ports in the region that will benefit.

The Corozal project has attracted the attention of 11 port operators who are among the largest in the world, and they have formally expressed interest.

These include Terminal Investment Limited, S.A. (TIL) (Lux-embourg); Eurogate GmbH and Co. (Germany); Carrix, Inc. (US); Hyundai Engineering and Construction Co. (Korea); APM Terminals (Denmark); Ports America (US); CMA-CGM (France); Evergreen (Taiwan); China Shipping Ports Development Co. Ltd and China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd (Republic of China); Mitsui OSK Lines (Japan) and Patrick Terminals (Australia).

“Meanwhile, the process of securing, by law, that the operator of the port has the same tax benefits as the rest of the port operators in the country, is still delayed.

The executive director of the Panama Chamber of Shipping (CMP), Luciano Fernandes, appreciates the need for another port on the Pacific. “It is vital” to complement the logistics center of the country,” he said. “On the Pacific side is where there is more need of port infrastructure, roads, logistics parks and other developments. When you have a sea front, which is the case of Corozal, it makes sense to use it to transship goods through a port terminal,” he says, noting that it will make the sector more competitive.

The manager of the CMP refers to shipping lines that can not presently operate on the Pacific due to lack of capacity in the ports. “These lines design their routes depending on the availability of port terminals. With no windows on the docks for the specific time needed for an operation of a ship with a certain amount to handle, these carriers can not operate.”

In a report, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) warns that if the port capacity on the Pacific is not increased, “the additional volume of transshipment cargo that would come from the Canal expansion will have to be served in other ports and regional hubs, such as Buenaventura (Colombia) Laz-aro Cardenas (Mexico) Callao (Peru) on the Pacific coast and Cartagena (Colombia) Caucedo (Dominican Republic) Kingston (Jamaica) or Freeport (Bahamas) on the Atlantic.

Thomas Kenna, president and CEO of the Panama Canal Railway Company (PCRC) wastes no time in digressions to speak clearly and directly about the need for development of the port of Corozal. “We should be talking not only of Corozal, but also other ports. “With the expanded Canal so advanced, Panama has lost time thinking about whether there should be more ports,” he says.

Kenna takes up the numbers and explains that in the past five years, although the volume of cargo handled has not grown to a great extent, PCRC has invested approximately $50 mil lion and continues with the plan to improve its operations. “We are betting that the ACP, with the Government, not only will carry the port of Corozal forward, but will take other steps after Corozal that are identified. If we do not take advantage of our geographical position, our neighbors will do it for us,” warns the executive who, since 2009, has managed the railway company.

Source: The Bulletin Panama