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Panama strengthens links with UAE

Panama strengthens links with UAE
A high-level Panamanian delegation led by Panama Maritime Authority (AMP) deputy administrator Alejandro Agustin Moreno visited the Seatrade Maritime Middle East (SMME) event in Dubai last week, accompanied by Panama’s Ambassador to the UAE Eduardo Fonseca Ward.

Speaking exclusively to Seatrade Maritime News, Moreno outlined the country’s maritime plans following this summer’s opening of the expanded Panama Canal incorporating a new third set of locks.

The country’s vision is to further develop the Panama Canal area into a logistic hub, he said, to which end a new Corozal Port is to be built on the Pacific Coast at a greenfield site some 10km from capital Panama City. A tender will be issued in Q1 2017 for development of the terminal with eventual capacity of 5m-7m teu, to be built in two phases of 2.5m-4m teu and 1.5m to 3m teu respectively.

In parallel, planning is already underway for the building of a fourth set of locks that would further expand the Canal’s capacity, Moreno said. However, this would involve not merely building a lock but also “the need to obtain the water resource (necessary) to ensure uninterrupted functioning of the Canal,” meaning it would represent a real “engineering feat”.

Meanwhile, in the UAE last year AMP inaugurated a regional office for seafarers, able to evaluate and print ‘Seamen’s Books’ or Identity Documents – which are now more secure against forgery thanks to a new electronic system incorporating 33 different security measures, explained Moreno.

In addition, AMP is now looking at upgrading its presence in the UAE with a full Technical Office, he continued. “Due to SMME we have had a lot of potential and actual clients requesting the technical presence of Segumar (here)…to better ensure transparency and safety of seafarers, which is obviously our main priority.”

In fact, Panama views the UAE as a “vital strategic partner’, he said, with the two countries sharing certain key characteristics such as both being a hub and gateway for their much larger surrounding regions, which is one reason Panama’s former consulate in the UAE has been upgraded to an Embassy.

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