Panama Canal extends relief measures until year-end

Panama Canal gets new administrator 
Ricaurte Vásquez Morales


As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the global economy, the Panama Canal Authority has decided to extend its temporary relief measures to 31 December 2020, offering further support for the industry’s recovery.

As informed, the extension comes after “continued dialogue” between the Canal and industry leaders on how to best provide relief as the world looks to recover from the economic and social impact of COVID-19. 

“Despite the challenges faced earlier this year, I am confident we will see a steady recovery going into our 2021 Fiscal Year for both the Canal and its customers,” Ricaurte Vásquez Morales, Panama Canal Administrator, said.

Implemented on 4 May and originally set to run until 1 September, the relief measures include the suspension of advance payments for transit reservation fees and other changes to the waterway’s reservation system. Together, they allow customers to maintain higher liquidity, as well as added flexibility for swapping or substituting booking slots among their own fleets.

“I am encouraged by the growth we are seeing for the container segment, though we are tracking changes in global trade flows vigilantly,” Ilya Espino de Marotta, Deputy Administrator, commented.

Transits at the Panama Canal climbed from 845 in June to 933 in July, and August is showing a similar trend. The increase was largely driven by a surge in containership transits along the U.S. East Coast to Asia route. 

The extension of the relief measures comes on the heels of the Panama Canal’s commitment to making investments in order to secure a sustainable, long-term solution to water levels, furthering the waterway’s operational reliability in the years to come.