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aersk Line, the Canal’s largest customer, and shipping line with the most Panama bound cargo, made 384 canal transits in 2010 and 1,282 calls at the ports of Balboa (PPC), on the Pacific side, and Manzanillo (MIT) on the Atlantic side. Maersk Line continues to be the biggest customer for both MIT with 571 calls in 2010 and PPC/Balboa with 711 calls during the same year. The liner remains the biggest customer of the Panama Canal Railway, having transported close to 250,000 full and empty containers between the hubs of Manzanillo and Balboa and vice versa in 2010.

Maersk Line has several regular services from Asia with 8,800teu-post- Panamax vessels calling Balboa every week, and also transports transhipment cargo into the Caribbean and the Pacific South American coast.

Danish shipping giant, A.P. Moller- Maersk downgraded its container- shipping outlook for 2011 amid what it says are increased pressures on freight rates, while still managing to post a first- half net profit of $2.8bn, beating the $2.69bn average forecast by analysts. It expects global demand for seaborne containers to grow by 6-8% in 2011. The global supply of new tonnage is expected to grow more than the freight volumes especially on the Asia to Europe trade. The Group expects freight rates to remain under pressure, and high bunker and time charter costs are expected to continue to impact margins negatively, the Group said in a statement commenting on results for

countries that benefit from the Panama Canal. We have listened to their feedback and have made adjustments to our pricing structure accordingly. For instance, we selected the toll implementation date of January 2011 to respond to industry requests of a moratorium on increases in 2010,’ says Aleman.

The increases vary by sector, containers, dry bulk, liquid bulk, vehicles, reefers, passengers, general cargo and other sectors, and were estimated at between 12% and 16%. Containers vessels were levied under an entirely different formula than other sectors, cutting costs for empties-laden backhauls. The charge for a ship’s rated capacity rose by $2/teu to $74/teu, in addition to an $8/teu charge for loaded containers.

The new pricing structure for box ships was ‘the result of a series of consultations with the industry,’ said Aleman, noting that the additional loaded-box charge can be more easily passed along to shippers. Also, the new container-fee structure has required special reporting of loaded


the first half of 2011.

‘We have recently added a second service from Asia into the Region, including direct mainline calls at TCBUEN in Buenaventura, underlining our commitments to the Asia - Latin America trade, where we want to remain the largest and most reliable carrier. Currently we have two weekly services operating in this trade, giving us a great geographical and market coverage,’ says Maersk Line Caribbean Sea Cluster president, Dean Rodin who arrived in Panama in April 2011 from Abidjan where he was responsible for Maersk Cote d'Ivoire Cluster, overseeing Burkina Faso, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and the Ivory Coast. Maersk continues to expand its business in Panama with new services and products in the Central America- Caribbean region as the leading ocean carrier, explains Dean Rodin. ‘In addition to the AC3, the service from Asia to Central America and

containers. Since July 2010, the ACP is requiring each transiting vessel to provide information on its cargo and the number of loaded containers and empties. The initial implementation of this novel system was not easy, says Sabonge. However, the ACP rapidly switched to taking the vessel information from the BAPLIE [Bay Plan Stowage Plan of Occupied and Empty Spaces]. Vessel operators fill out a BAPLIE form at the point of origin. ‘To simplify the system we have just asked to be given a copy of BAPLIE and [this] has proved to work just fine,’ he explains.

‘Since the beginning, we have been committed to an open and transparent process with regard to the Canal’s pricing structure. We are focused on providing the safest, most reliable and efficient service for our customers, and the new pricing structure approved by the Cabinet Council reflects this commitment,’ adds Aleman. The Canal top ranking customers include Nippon Yusen Kaisa (NYK Lines),

Colombia, we will soon start a new service into the Mediterranean, called ECUMED, offering sailings from Panama which is used as a transhipment hub for other countries, directly into Black Sea area, including Turkey, Ukraine and Russia,’ he says. ECUMED will offer new opportunities to the regional exporters, especially for fruits.

A number of other initiatives and capacity upgrades are also ongoing, ‘across a number of services that we operate today; we have also recently added a call to Cost Rica to our weekly Spondylus service, offering extremely competitive connections between Costa Rica and the US markets,’ Rodin comments.

The APM-Maersk group of companies in Panama, which is headquartered in Costa del Este, covers Maersk Line Caribbean Sea Cluster, APM Terminals and Damco Latin America, as well as the Latin America liner operations centre located in Balboa.

Maersk Line, Evergreen Marine, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL), CSAV-Compania Sud Americana de Vapores, HapagLloyd, Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC), COSCO, Hamburg Sud, CMA CGM, Hanjin Shipping Co, Zim American Integrated Shipping Services, Seatrade Reefer Chartering NV, SONAP, Wallenius Wilhemsen, Kawasaki Kisen (K Line), STX Pan Ocean Co, Dampskibsselskabet Norden AS, Yang Ming Marine and also Cargill International.

Most of the Canal top customers have established offices in Panama. The A.P. Moller - Maersk Group, which is the parent company of Maersk Line – one of the Canal’s largest customers, is headquartered in Costa del Este which houses Maersk Line Caribbean Sea Cluster, Damco and Maersk Logistics Latin America, employs more than 400 staff. ECS Panama, which specialises in repairing containers has recently moved into a new state of the art facility inside the port of Balboa offering improved capacity and capabilities to handle any type of repair and equipment.


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