Panamanian ports post 5.3% growth in 2020

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Panama port activity not only rose by 5.3% last year but also registered the highest volume ever with 7.73m teu despite a lock down for several months and other restrictions.

All terminals posted growth with the exception of Evergreen’s Colon Container Terminal (CCT) on the Atlantic side.

 Manzanillo International Terminal-Panama (MIT) saw an increase of 4.7% to 2.67m teu, a milestone for the joint venture between Seattle-based SSA Marine and a group of Panamanian investors, and an all time high.

“During 2020, container volumes at MIT finished higher than 2019, exceeding 2.6m teu, driven primarily by transhipment traffic. However, local container and ro-ro cargo volume pushed financial results lower than the year before. We are optimistic that the local market will continue to rebound during 2021, but we are not anticipating significant overall growth this year,” commented Stacy Hatfield, general manager of MIT.

 Colon Container Terminal (CCT) was the only terminal in the red in terms of volumes with a decrease in volumes of 8.9% to 714,441 teu. CCT also serves the Caribbean/Central American market and many of those markets were still in various states of lockdown.

 Panama Ports Co, a subsidiary of Hutchison Holdings, that administers the ports of Balboa on the Pacific side and Cristobal on the Atlantic side, saw a rebound of activity after two years of decline since the inauguration of the expansion of PSA-Panama that captured a great number of services calling at the two ports. Balboa volumes grew by 1.7% to 1.96m teu and Cristobal volume increased by 2.4% to 1.08m teu.

PSA-Panama passed the million teu mark with 1.20m teu up 23.6% compared to 2019. “This result was mainly driven by the strategic location that Panama has in this area…During the beginning of the pandemic, almost every country around the world (including Panama) was in lock down which inevitably shut down factories and offices. With the gradual but uneven reopening of the factories, shipping, in general, has seen a surge in volumes. Factories reopened were exporting but in certain cases receivers could not receive the goods. Hence the pivotal role of Panama and PSA,” said PSA-Panama general manager Alessandro Cassinelli.

“We have handled and accommodated cargo in our yard waiting for countries to reopen and receive their goods. What we call Advanced Transhipment Management. THE Alliance network started to call PSA-Panama in May 2020, a volume which represents an increase vs 2019,” he added.

 “As far as 2021 is concerned we see that the fruit season from West Coast South America is stronger than last year. We also, trust that with the vaccine distribution will have slowly but steadily a positive impact on every country in order to regain the momentum perhaps lost in the 1H of last year.”

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