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MIT Expansion

A LOGISTICS CENTRE UNLIKE ANYTHING IN THE AMERICAS

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Over recent years, Panama has become increasingly attractive to trans-national companies with a global reach. The country’s strategic location, including air connectivity, and its rapid rate of development, expanding infrastructure and trainable workforce have made Panama the hot site for a logistics complex to serve the vast markets of the Americas.

In real estate, the top three attractions are location, location and location. Panama has all three.

Manzanillo International Terminal (MIT), always on the cusp of development, has moved to exploit the growing demand for logistics hubs in the Caribbean-Latin American region and the strategic advantages of locating such enterprises in Panama. It has started a major development programme, the first phase of which, to cost about US$ 270 million, is expected to be completed by mid 2014.

MIT was already a key component of a huge logistics hub on the Caribbean side of the isthmus of Panama, a complex which included the Colon Free Zone and Logistics Parks. However, the plans now being implemented by MIT will result in a fully integrated logistics hub unlike anything in the region.

“Fully integrated infrastructure-wise; process-wise, mainly among government entities; commercial-wise and long-term strategy-wise involving both the public and private sectors,” said Juan Carlos Croston, Vice President Marketing at MIT, as he outlined plans for one of the largest logistics hubs in the hemisphere.

 “The logistic centre we envision for Panama consists of efficient port operations and logistic infrastructure on both the Atlantic and the Pacific (coasts); adequate road infrastructure between ports; and a streamlined flow of information between all the parts involved.” 

Inspired by Colon’s location and potential, MIT has identified three areas for development: a logistics park and two processing centres. These areas will allow multinational companies to control inventory and to add value through packing, repacking, labelling, pricing and assembly operations.   

Mr. Croston told Caribbean Maritime: “Although most of the investment for logistic parks is coming from private companies such as local developers or foreign investors, the government should be involved in the development of Panama as a logistics destination.

APPOINTMENT SYSTEM

“The public sector is instrumental in improving current processes and information workflow between authorities, logistics companies, consignees and ports. For instance, to streamline the process for import containers delivered at the port we are trying to develop an appointment system. The success of the system will depend on the inputs and support from all parties and agencies involved in the process.” 

At present, companies located in the vicinity of the MIT Logistics Park benefit from close proximity to various services and assets including the highway, seaports, airports, the railroad and Colon’s Free Trade Zone.

“Our strategy consists of consolidating the advantages of working with MIT which, in real terms, means high maritime connectivity, state-of-the-art technology, modern and expanding infrastructure, trained and experienced personnel at all levels and a high level of reliability and year-round dependability,” said Mr. Croston. “Besides, our expansion plan will allow MIT to effectively service new panamax vessels … and we will increase berthing windows available for current and new customers.” 

New services to be provided by MIT are all in support of the growing commercial, logistics and transportation activity in Panama and the entire Caribbean and Latin American region. At the port, MIT has already initiated moves to expand and to increase space for containers and to provide additional berths to serve regular and potential customers.

A number of civil works projects are now taking place in the areas adjacent to MIT. Access roads are being widened and there has been an increase in local construction activity. For example, warehouses are being built or expanded and this is expected to continue over time as MIT expansion plans reach completion.

MIT’s expansion plans include construction of 890 metres of additional berthing and the deployment of an improved stacking system in the container yard area which will effectively maximise space usage. Plans also include dredging of the turning basin, access channel and berths to a depth of 16.5 metres.