What have been the main highlights of the sector thus far?
The maritime industry is an extremely important sector for the country. It has an impact of more than 30% on GDP. It also generates more than 289 employers, both directly and indirectly. The sector has a great impact on the country, and it is the cornerstone to develop the logistic hub of the Americas. We are currently working on promoting the sector at all levels, national and international, and being more visible to authorities related to the provision of maritime services to spread awareness of the importance of the sector for the country.
How has the profile of membership evolved over the years?
Currently, our membership is composed of shipping lines, shipping agents, container port operators, oil terminal operators, bunkering, class societies, ship chandlers, bunker barge operators, cargo surveyors, freight forwarders, ship repairs, marinas, commercial divers, and many more. All the major companies involved in the sector are in this association. As a maritime chamber, we have agreements with other international associations, and we seek to exchange knowledge between associations. Our association has evolved over time, and we seek to adapt accordingly.
What can be done to bring more investment to Panama, and how does your Vision 2019-2020 help accomplish that?
We believe that by working together, private companies and government, we can attract much more investment in Panama's maritime sector. We prepared our Maritime Vision 2019-2024, which was handed to every presidential candidate for 2019-2024 and which we hope will be embraced and implemented by the new president. This is the result of more than 20 intensive meetings with all clusters of the chamber, which resulted in five pillars to further develop our industry, amongst them the need for strong institutions to lead the development of the sector including logistics, the development of more infrastructure to strengthen the transshipment business, the modernization of the regulatory system according to market needs to expedite the transit of cargo via Panama logistic infrastructure, and the importance of human capital and education. The knowledge in the industry regarding processes needs to be brought in line with the digital revolution.
Who are your main partners to achieve your goals?
We represent the private sector but work along with the public sector represented by the Panama Maritime Authority. We have to continue maintaining a dialogue between the public and private sectors to positively impact the maritime sector. We also need to continue promoting activities so the chamber can increase its reach in terms of education. This is what we have called project hands-on education, where we give students the opportunity to experience what it is like working with our member companies and gain real-world experience. Additionally, we also have the Annual Maritime Conference, organized by CMP, which helps educate the general public on matters relating to the maritime sector.