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Ports and Shipbuilding Equipment
A Top U.S. Export Prospect for Panama

May 2013

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Market Estimates

(in US$ millions)

2011

2012est

2013est

2014est

Total Market Size

46.0

51.0

57.0

65.0

Total Local Production

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

Total Exports

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

Total Imports

46.0

51.0

57.0

65.0

Imports from the U.S.

25.0

28

31

54.0

The above statistics are unofficial estimates.

Overview

Because of its strategic location Panama is a key maritime center. The Panama Canal has historically been the symbol of Panama’s maritime activities. Panama’s traditional main ports, Cristobal on the Atlantic and Balboa on the Pacific, were privatized in the 1990s. Both ports are now modern facilities run by Hutchison Whampoa and are capable of handling increased container traffic. Additionally, two major container ports operate on the Atlantic side: Manzanillo (operated by the Seattle, WA-based Carrix) and Coco Solo (operated by Taiwanese-based Evergreen Marine Corporation). PSA International, a Singaporean company, recently built a smaller container port on the west side of the Pacific entrance into the Canal. Panama’s container handling capability has increased from 250,000 in 1997 to over 6 million in 2012.

A trans-isthmian railroad, built by the U.S. firms Kansas City Southern and Mi-Jack Products Inc., has been in operation since 2001. The railroad allows for surface container multimodal transshipment between the Pacific and Atlantic, in parallel with the Canal. The Panamanian ports are among the most active ports in the region and this situation is expected to continue in the near future, as the world economy show signs of recovery.

The U.S. has a strong position in the port equipment market, with a market share of over 50 percent. Major competitors are Korea, Japan, Germany, and the People’s Republic of China.

Sub-Sector Best Prospects

This increased port activity offers excellent opportunities for U.S. port equipment exporters. The following product categories enjoy good demand: quay cranes, container cranes, forklifts, top loaders, rubber tire gantry cranes, power packs, and flatbeds. Additionally, the new ports offer opportunities for material handling equipment such as small forklifts, small trucks, and similar equipment.

Opportunities

As the world economy recovers from the global crisis and the Canal expansion is completed, Panamanian ports will continue showing a strong growth. This will generated increased business opportunities for port related activities, including port equipment, dredges, consulting services, and fuel supplies.

Web Resources

For More Information

The U.S. Commercial Service in Panama can be contacted via e-mail at: Enrique.Tellez@trade.gov;

Phone: 011-507-317-5080; or visit our website: http://www.export.gov/panama.