Hong Kong, September 14, 2001 – The fourth meeting of the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) Advisory Board successfully concluded today, following two days of intensive deliberations in Hong Kong.

William O’Neil, Chairman for the Advisory Board, praised the professionalism of the Panama Canal for its excellent performance after 21 months of Panamanian stewardship. Canal administration officials informed the Advisory Board about ongoing operations and the progress of current maintenance and modernization programs.

On behalf of the members of the Board, O’Neil expressed his satisfaction with the improvements to the transit reservation system, the decrease in the accident rate and in Canal Waters Time (CWT), and the results of the transiting vessel inspection program, which will contribute to make the Panama Canal a safer waterway while serving the growing needs of the shipping industry.

The Board was pleased with the in-depth studies the Canal is undertaking, and encouraged the Administration to continue with the necessary steps to examine in detail the technical, social, environmental, and financial issues related to the proposed expansion plans.

The Advisory Board provides the ACP Board of Directors and Canal administration with expert advice, guidance, and useful information from the global maritime community perspective on how to prepare the Canal to meet future challenges.

During the meeting, the Canal’s Advisory Board also referred to the importance of the announcement made by the Government of Panama about the implementation of an integrated maritime strategy and policies that would demonstrate Panama’s commitment to providing the highest quality services, while meeting the country’s social and economic needs.