Sunday, November 20, 2011

International Ship Owners Welcome As Panama Freight Shipping Tonnage Set To Double

PMC Opens Up to New Members
Shipping News Feature

PANAMA – With plans well under way to enlarge the Panama Canal making it capable of handling double its previous capacity the Panama Maritime Chamber (PMC) has opened its membership to international ship owners with vessels registered in Panama for the first time. The PMC has been in operation since the inception of the passage, almost a century ago and acts as a forum to foster a legal, regulatory and procedural climate which suits the 180 plus freight and passenger vessel owning companies which comprise its membership.

The extension of the lock facilities, voted for by referendum in 2006, are expected to be completed by 2014 at which time vessels up to 366 metres with a beam width approaching 50 metres and drafts of over 15 metres will be able to pass through. With competition from Suez and the possibility of a Northern Arctic Passage looming Panama is keen to ensure it reinforces its standing as the most viable option for the gross of ocean routes it currently serves. For a canal built to handle 80 million tonnes of shipping annually the latest projected possible throughput of up to 600 million tonnes is an indication of the serious intent the people of the country continue to have to maintain their market position.

Members of the PMC get representation before the Panama Canal Authority, the Panama Maritime Authority, the Colon Free Zone, and the whole of the local maritime community and announcing the new policy to broaden the organisations membership base Jose Digeronimo, chairman of the Panama Maritime Chamber said:

“There are over 9,000 vessels registered under the Panama flag, and our aim is to involve and help ship owners with representation, information, education, networking, trade missions and most important, lobbying on their behalf. I am sure that by joining, ship owners will realise added value, as we are their representatives in all the tri-partite meetings being held in Panama in respect of the Maritime Labour Convention.

“With the latest ratification, 20 ILO member states, representing over 54 per cent of the world gross tonnage of ships, are now parties to the Convention. Of the 20 ratifications, nine have been received in 2011. It is expected that the additional 10 ratifications will occur in the next two months making it possible for the MLC, 2006 to enter into force in 2012.”

Earlier in the year, during a visit to Panama, the Maritime Chamber presented to Navios Holdings Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Angeliki Frangou, the PMC International Member Certificate number 0001, as recognition of the many years in which her company has been a supporter of Panama.

Photo: An APL container ship exiting the sea lock into the Caribbean (courtesy DeVerm)