Wednesday, February 23, 2011

24 Feb 2011: Panama - Where the World Meets

Thursday, February 24, 20118:00 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.Registration: 8:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.Presentation: 8:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.
Panama Marriott HotelSalon Campo AlegreCalle 52 y Ricardo AriasPanama City, PanamaMap of location

Panama is set to continue growing at one of the fastest paces in Latin America. For 2010, Panama’s growth is expected to be 7 percent, and the IMF and UN forecast the country will lead GDP growth in the region over the next five years thanks in part to its public investment plans, which is close to $20 billion for the 2009 to 2014 period. More than 40 multinational headquarters have moved their regional operations to Panama due to its economic and political stability and have taken advantage of its strategic position and government incentives to attract investment. By continued strengthening of its logistics sector, Panama may be well positioned to become the Singapore-style hub for Latin America, providing foreign investors with a high-standard regional platform to develop its products and services in order to reach other markets.
For the second consecutive year, AS/COA, together with the World Bank and the government of Panama, is organizing a conference to provide an in-depth analysis of these issues. This year, the conference will be focused on the country’s economic prospects and the efforts and challenges to improve its competitiveness in the logistics sector.
Please join us as we address these issues with a group of internationally recognized senior business executives, government officials, economists and investment analysts.
Ricardo Martinelli, President of Panama
Demetrio Papadimitriu, Minister of the Presidency, Panama
Alberto Vallarino, Minister of Finance and Economy, Panama
Roberto Henríquez, Minister of Commerce and Industry, Panama
Alberto Alemán Zubieta, CEO, Panama Canal Authority
Edgar Blanco, Research Director, Center for Transportation and Logistics, MIT
Tanya Avellán, Director, Central America, Coca-Cola FEMSA
Frank Heemskerk, Member of the Board of Management, Royal Haskoning
Samuel Israel, CEO, Latin America, DHL Global Forwarding
Felipe Jaramillo, Central America Director, The World Bank
Sergio Luna, Vice President, Department of Economic and Sociopolitical Research, Citi Latin America
Rubén Ramírez, Representative Director, Panama, CAF
Don Ratliff, Executive Director, Georgia Tech Panama Logistics, Innovation & Research Center
Stefan J. Roehr, Director, Latin America Supply Chain, Sanofi-Aventis
Jordan Schwartz, Lead Infrastructure Economist, Latin America and the Caribbean, The World Bank
Peter V.A. Shaw, Regional Credit Officer for Latin America, Fitch Ratings
Carlos Urriola, General Manager Manzanillo International Terminal and Senior Vice President, Stevedoring Services of America
Philip Yeo, Chairman, SPRING Singapore, Special Adviser for Economic Development, Prime Minister’s Office (view a background presentation on Singapore’s economic development)
Susan Segal, President and CEO, Americas Society and Council of the Americas

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Widening of Panama Canal results in more spending elsewhere

The $5.25 billion being spent on widening of the Panama Canal is only the beginning of expenditures in the rush to accommodate giant container ships. Billions more dollars will be spent in the United States, as ports rush to expand facilities to receive the post-panamax ships passing through when the expansion is completed in 2014, one hundred years after it first opened.

Panama has been hosting delegations or port authorities and logistics experts from New York to Miami, including Savannah, and Atlanta, Georgia; Charleston, South Carolina; and Jacksonville Florida.

The widening will lead to the biggest shift in the freight business since the 1950s, when ships first started using giant containers of equal size.

Some of the ships known as post-Panamax can carry three times as many containers as the largest ships currently making the 48 mile transit.

The widening will also allow the U.S. Navy to transit some of its super sized aircraft carriers that currently have to make the long haul around the cape.

The expansion will enable products made in Asia to be sent directly to the East Coast instead of being unloaded on the West Coast and then sent east by train or truck.

A result could be a shift in business worth billions of dollars to ports, and big savings for companies like Ikea, Home Depot and Wal-Mart, always on the hunt for more efficient ways to serve shoppers in the Eastern third of the United States, where a majority of the U.S. population lives.

To capture some of the new traffic, almost every large East Coast port and those along the Gulf of Mexico have projects under way. Some ports that are too small to handle the giant ships are improving railroads and truck routes, making them more efficient in anticipation of an overall increase in the number of containers coming to the East says the New York Times.

Others want to dig deeper channels and become the leading port in their regions for companies operating the big vessels.

Containers have become the name of the game in shipping says a lead article. Although cruise ships and imports and exports of cars, oil and bulk agricultural loads like cotton and fertilizer still make up a good portion of port traffic, most of the growth is in containers filled with products that Americans like to buy.

The newest, biggest ships can carry the equivalent of as many as 15,000 containers that are 20 feet long. But they are also heavier, wider and require deeper water. In Savannah, for example, the water is only 42 feet deep. That is enough, with tidal variations, to handle ships loaded with 5,500 containers.

The port at Norfolk, Va., is 50 feet deep, and is the only one on the East Coast that can handle the biggest, fully loaded container ships.

The navigation channel that feeds the Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal in New Jersey is deep enough, but the Bayonne Bridge is not tall enough for the new container ships to pass under.

Officials at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey are studying options. They might raise the bridge by 64 feet. A study estimated the cost at $1.3 billion.

As Savannah port officials are learning, digging up six feet of mud is not easy or cheap. Environmentalists are concerned that dredging will cause historic Savannah buildings along the shore to tumble into the water, suck sand from the shores of Tybee Island and ruin freshwater marshes.

The Corps of Engineers' environmental impact document, issued after a 14 yearstudy, suggested deepening but not widening the channel to protect the buildings along the shore and adding 3,000 acres of wildlife preservation land to help offset the impact on freshwater marshes.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Panamapundit logs off

Panamapundit is the username of Sam Taliaferro in his Panama Investor Blog postings until his unfortunate passing away. In his blog he provided updates about business developments in Panama not readily available in English, analyzed from a pro-business perspective and his experience developing a resort community in Panama. He will be missed....

Samuel Walker Taliaferro VII
June 10th, 1952 – February 17th, 2011

Sam Taliaferro, devoted father and husband, developer, entrepreneur and cherished friend to hundreds of people around the world, passed away early this morning after a two year battle with cancer.

Words like "pioneer" and "visionary" are used frequently to describe successful people but few truly deserve those titles as much as Sam.

An inventor by profession, Sam developed and patented numerous technologies used by fortune 100 companies throughout the world. He built a number of manufacturing operations to build these technologies, the last one in Costa Rica in 1995.

In 2000 he had an idea to create Valle Escondido, a residential resort community in the mountain highlands of Panama that would appeal to those looking for an exotic yet first world lifestyle. The small village where the project is located has become known throughout the world as a retirement/tourist hot spot due to his marketing efforts and the success of the development. It was rated the number one foreign retirement destination in the western hemisphere by the AARP in 2002 and one of the top five best lifestyle values in the world by Fortune Magazine in 2005. The success of the project lit the fuse that started the real estate boom (and bust) in Panama.

In 2005 Sam began writing the Panama Investor Blog which focuses on the country from an investors prospective and reaches people interested in Panama from all over the world. Current subscription is about 7000.

Sam and his wife Thalia also operate the Valle Escondido resort Golf & Spa located in the center of the residential project. The resort employs about 80 full time Panamanians and is one of the areas largest employers.