The successful completion of the Panama Canal expansion will be key to the local logistics system. With a third set of locks, the canal's capacity to transport goods will rise by 40%, enabling continued growth in trade and logistics activity and generating higher dividends for the state treasury.
With a population of only 3.5 million people and a privileged location in the heart of the Americas, Panama has made major investments in infrastructure to consolidate its position as a north-south connection hub for the Western Hemisphere. The transport, storage and communication sector in Panama accounts for about 20% of GDP; the canal alone accounts for about 6% of GDP.
Due mainly to the country's notable port development, in the transport infrastructure rating of the latest "Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013" by the World Economic Forum (WEF), Panama received the best score in the region (4.7) and was 30th overall among the almost 150 countries analyzed.
Because the canal expansion represents a paradigm shift for global maritime trade, the local port system requires improvements at both ends of the inter-oceanic waterway to adapt to the new reality.
While this is the task at hand, there are also institutional, regulatory and management challenges that must be overcome to achieve the country's objective of establishing Panama as a world-class logistics hub. The strategy, shared by authorities and the private sector, is to encourage higher added value throughout the logistics chain.
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