UncategorizedPanama Consolidates its Role as the Logistics Center of the Americas.

Panama Consolidates its Role as the Logistics Center of the Americas.

By  Gabriel Leonard
Photos  Javier Pinzón

The 2007-2016 expansion of the Panama Canal has undoubtedly been one of the most significant and disruptive events of the century for global transit between the Pacific and the Atlantic. From Savannah, Charleston, Miami, New Jersey (United States), and Manzanillo (México) in the northern reaches of the Americas to Buenaventura, Cartagena (Colombia), and San Antonio (Chile) in the south, not to mention the Caribbean, there has been substantial investment with an eye to making the most of the boom in maritime trade that the expanded waterway brings. The expansion helped strengthen these and other ports that also offer logistics services, creating a climate of stiffer competition in the regional logistics sphere.

With a good understanding of this reality and seeking to consolidate the country’s brand in the regional and global logistics industry, in 2014 the Panamanian government created the Logistics Cabinet to formulate a national logistics strategy. In 2017, the Cabinet, with the support of the Inter-American Development Bank, published a document that identifies the Panama Canal as a driver of the logistics platform and lists various strategic proposals for positioning Panama as a leader in the regional logistics industry by the end of the upcoming decade. One priority is to strengthen government policies that deal with the sector. For Rolando Álvarez, president of the Panamanian Association of Cargo Agencies (APAC), Panama has already set a benchmark in the Panama Canal Authority. “This should provide a model for other government institutions associated with the logistics of transport or the supply chain to ensure that what we offer as the hub of the Americas is increasingly competitive and attractive to users of the Canal, along with all our multi-modal services to and from Panama, “ he explains.

Another goal is to improve the country’s infrastructure. Panama currently has some of the best infrastructure in Latin America in general and the Caribbean basin in particular. Nonetheless, Álvarez stresses, “We need to continue improving the integration of different government entities dealing with logistics. We should proceed with the upcoming construction of infrastructure, such as the Tocumen Free Trade Zone and the Multi-modal Logistics Zone of the Inter-Oceanic Region, while likewise strengthening the services offered by the Colón and Pacific Panama Free Zones, among other duty-free zones in our country.” Both institutional and infrastructure goals can be achieved by reaching a consensus in which government actors, members of the logistics community, and entrepreneurs, among others, play a historic role by joining forces and creating synergies to achieve common goals and champion regulations, rules, and laws that benefit the country.

All of this underlines the importance of events such as China-LAC and Expologística, since they bring active and potential users of the platform together with those in charge, creating joint goals. Gabriel Barletta, president of the China-LAC Organizing Commission, states: “Panama’s political and economic stability makes it the ideal environment for doing business in the region. Likewise, the country’s geographic location enables operations through our multi-modal logistics platform, thus facilitating access to new markets and consolidating our country as the gateway to the Americas for entrepreneurs from other parts of the world. Meanwhile, we have the best-developed logistics infrastructure in Latin America.”   

Jorge Juan de la Guardia, president of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Panama (CCIAP), noted that events like these promote the country as an important center of world-class logistics operations, supported by its excellent geographic location. This helps the industry maintain the growth, dynamism, and innovation for which it has been known, honing the country’s competitive edge and accelerating economic development.

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