During a briefing, Mr. Jorge Barakat Pitty, the administrator of the Panama Maritime Authority met with representatives of the United States Embassy in Panama. Mr. James Pérez, counselor for economic affairs and Mr. John Coronado, senior commercial officier were part of the delegation. The purpose of this meeting was to inform the American companies, through these officers, about the projects that the Panama Maritime Authority aims to develop.

The American officials welcomed this summoning. They stressed their interest in supporting the US companies, both on the micro and the macro scale, to help them finding and benefiting from new business opportunities. Furthermore, they underlined that these briefings should take place on a regular basis to keep them informed about upcoming projects. In turn, they will transmit the information that they receive to American investors and companies.

Mr. Jorge Barakat Pitty announced that the projects granted in concession would be significant projects with a local and national impact. The transparency in the management will constitute the hallmark of this administration. He also added that all the projects would have an invitation to tender avoiding all direct concessions.

The Panama Maritime Authority will ensure that the concessions shall be conceived in such a way that they bring solutions to the real issues and need of the sector where they are located. One of the first steps focuses on finding strategic spots for the constructions of ports that facilitate the access to the sea of the ancillary maritime industries. The concessions granted in both coasts will follow this same procedure.

Mr. Barakat added, “We realize the necessity of the developments that shall take place in the vicinity of the container ports; however, a comprehensive and sustainable development of the country implies that projects of such magnitude might not be restricted to the area near to the Panama Canal. For this reason, we support the development of port facilities in places such as Aguadulce and Vacamonte. Additionally, we support the ambitious project in the area of Puerto Armuelles (on Chiriqui’s Coast). Through a dry canal, this project aims to link the coasts of the Pacific and the Atlantic, regardless if the canal shall pass through Chiriqui Grande, Almirante or Port Loin, in Costa Rica.

Mr. Tomás Ávila, Secretary General of the Panama Maritime Authority pointed an important fact about Puerto Armuelles: it has a competitive advantage, since its natural depth ranges between 30 and 150 meters. The natural depth of the port eliminates the dredging operations, which, in turn, reduces the expenses of construction. He also announced to the American officials that around mid-June, an evaluation committee should select the consultant for this project. “Within a maximum period of six months, the consultant should present a proposal for a business model, which will be notified to the shipping companies and port operators; towards the end of the year they will be invited to tender.”

Ms. Guimara Tuñón, the deputy director of the Ancillary Maritime Industries informed the American officials about the status of the consulting reports regarding the Port of Vacamonte. She highlighted the fact that its vicinity to the Panama Canal makes feasible the construction of a multipurpose terminal. The purpose of this project is to surpass the current vision of the port, which is limited to a fishing dock.

Regarding the Port of Aguadulce, the deputy director of the Port Directorate confirmed that the companies would soon receive an invitation to tender the 39 hectares that this port comprises.   

At the end of the briefing, the administrator of the Panama Maritime Authority urged the American officials to encourage both large companies and SMEs to invest, not only in the big projects, but also in low budget projects, such as smaller ports and quays.