The number of containers mobilized to date in these first seven months is equivalent to what the entire port system mobilized throughout 2009. It is calculated that this year will close with 7,000,000 TEUs transported.
Despite this year's present growth, the month of July resulted negative, because the port system had a 5.5% decline in container movement, compared to the same month in 2011.
The main terminals that recorded negative figures were the ports of Balboa and Cristóbal, administered by the Panama Ports Company, which last month had a 19% decrease.
The decline is related to congestion caused at the ports, due to a strike by dockworkers in late March and early April, which seriously affected not only the ports, but also the railroad.
The worker's strike paralyzed the normal cycle and has taken time to recover, said a shipping source. Two or three months ago, much of the cargo in the ports got behind schedule, and that somehow caused all of the congestion in the terminals, he added. Cargo was also sent to Kingston, Jamaica or Lázaro, in Mexico, because the boats could not be serviced in Balboa, and were not sent to Balboa until weeks later.
The Mazanillo International Terminal port recorded a growth of only 3.2% in July and 12.2% across the seven months of this year. This low growth is also related to the congestion that the workers' strike caused in the system.
Colon Container Terminal of the Taiwanese company Evergreen recorded a 53.6% growth in July, but only increased a cumulative 16% in the seven months, since figures were negative in February, March and May.
The port system is expected to improve its growth over the next months, since there is a lot of cargo that is now being transported to different countries for year-end activities.
This movement should positively impact the transport statistics at the ports and reverse the decline they have had in recent months.
The transportation of cargo to Venezuela that passes through Panamanian ports has also helped, a phenomenon that is repeated every time that country has an election.
Many containers loaded with all kinds of merchandise ordered by the government of Hugo Chávez is being transported right now to that country, which will have elections next October 7 for the 2013-2019 term.
AFFECTED BY CRISIS
The economic situation that is affecting the United States and European countries in particular has also been reflected on the local and regional port activity.
While an economic growth of 10% is predicted for Panama, other countries in the region project a more conservative behavior.
In its June 2012 macroeconomic report for Latin America and the Caribbean, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) reported that, during the first three months of the year, the region's economies have moderated the slowdown recorded in the second half of 2011.
Latin America and the Caribbean's gross domestic product in 2011 showed an increase of 4.3%, but projections for this year are lower: 3.7% growth.
ECLAC said that its forecasts are founded on a scenario based on assumptions that the U.S. economy will grow, even if not by much, and that the financial and economic crisis in the European Union will be contained and not blow up into a global crisis.
The agency warned that Latin America and the Caribbean countries should be very attentive to what happens in Europe, because even if they achieve stabilization, the effects of the crisis will impact the region.
2012 MARITIME INDICATORS
decrease of vessel movement at ports in the first half of the year.
less passengers on cruise ships between January and June.
drop in Panamanian ship registration in the first semester of the year.