PANAMA CITY, Panama, December 16, 2003 – The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) released today 11 principles that have guided its operations and the formulation of the Permanent Modernization Plan – the Authority’s long-term, strategic business plan, which will be completed next year. Based on the ACP’s mission, vision and values, the “Guiding Principles” have been at the center of the organization’s goals, objectives, and operations and have served as the ACP’s “true north” – a guide for ACP management and employees regarding the priorities and fundamental goals and objectives of the Canal. The Guiding Principles have also led the ACP in undertaking and conducting business and planning for the Canal’s future.

The Guiding Principles focus on the ACP’s commitment to quality customer service and its dedication to its primary stakeholder – the Panamanian people. Consistent with the ACP’s commitment to the United Nations Global Compact, the Guiding Principles emphasize the Canal’s adherence to sustainable development practices and policies and its responsibility for environmental stewardship of the Canal watershed.

Canal Administrator/CEO, Alberto Alemán Zubieta, said: “This is business with a higher purpose – serving the needs of our customers and contributing to the development and welfare of all Panamanians. We are not only operating a Canal; we are also protecting and conserving the watershed, which is vital for Canal operations and to every Panamanian. These principles reinforce our vision, enhance our mission and advance our work.”

Alemán adds: “Our long-term planning requires systematic and strategic deliberation, and these principles have served as our ‘true north.’ The ACP is firmly committed to them as we finalize the essential business strategy of the Canal for decades to come.”

The following are the Guiding Principles:

1. Responsibility to the Panamanian People

The Authority’s responsibility to the Panamanian people is paramount.

The Canal belongs to the people and benefits from the Canal should accrue to as many Panamanians as possible. The Authority will plan its future so that it will continually contribute to the economic development and welfare of the people of Panama.

The Authority will adhere to the highest standards of integrity and ethical conduct, and will vigorously promote excellence in all aspects and processes of its business.

The Authority will seek to inform the people about the Canal, its operations and contributions to the community, the watershed and the people of Panama.

2. Responsiveness to the Needs of Customers

High quality customer service is essential. The Authority will excel in responding to the needs of its customers – ensuring safe, reliable, efficient and uninterrupted service.

The Authority will continue ongoing major maintenance work and capital improvements to the Canal, installing the most robust and up-to-date technology and providing the best training for our world-class work force.

The Authority will also work tirelessly to provide its customers with first-rate service, including new products and services in response to their evolving shipping and maritime needs.

3. Commitment to Market-Oriented, Demand-Driven Business Principles

The Authority has moved successfully from being a public utility to a full business enterprise. The Authority will manage the Canal utilizing modern business principles, recognizing traffic trends and addressing market demand.

The Authority will endeavor to maximize benefits for all of our stakeholders – the Panamanian citizens, customers and employees – by strengthening our competitive position and ensuring the long-term viability and profitability of the Canal.

4. Upholding the Canal’s Talented and Professional Human Resource

The Canal’s most important resource has always been and will continue to be its dedicated and highly skilled world-class work force.

Through its renown merit system, the Authority will continue to recruit and retain the diverse and qualified human resource necessary to guarantee the safe and efficient management, operation and maintenance of the waterway, ensuring that the Authority also meet the future demands of the Canal.

Continuous training programs will serve as tools to develop competencies and skills ensuring the optimum effectiveness and productivity of each employee.

Up-to-date personnel and labor relations policies will ensure a fair and equitable treatment of all Canal employees.

5. Adherence to Sustainable Development Principles and Practices

Sustainable development is key to the continuous operation and future viability of the Panama Canal. The Authority will promote sustainable development – by providing for the present water needs of the people of Panama City and the Canal, and working to meet future demands by conserving and managing water resources and protecting the Canal watershed.

The Authority will also implement strategies and best practices, exchange knowledge and expertise with relevant local and international institutions in the pursuit of the Canal watershed’s sustainable development.

6. Dedication to Environmental Stewardship

Successful Canal operation entails caring for the environment around the Canal area. The Authority is firmly committed to its role as caretakers of the Canal watershed – the land, its forests, lakes, species, wildlife and their habitat.

The Authority will protect the environment and conserve the natural resources of the watershed.

The Authority will manage all aspects of its business and Canal operation in keeping with the highest international standards of environmental management, creating shareholder and societal value. The Authority will also take a precautionary approach to environmental challenges by incorporating risk assessment and environmental impact assessment, which are geared toward the protection of the environment.

7. Respect for Local Culture, Livelihood and Enlisting Local Participation

Respecting people’s culture and livelihood is an integral part of corporate citizenship. The Authority will continue to encourage and respect the culture, norms and values of the local communities in the Canal area.

The Authority will promote sustainable livelihood and contribute to raising the quality of life for the residents of the Canal area. The Authority will also enlist the participation of local stakeholders in the planning process for permanent modernization.

8. Engagement with the International Community

Engaging civil society both locally and internationally is an essential element of our business. The Authority will reach out to our local constituents and to the international community.

The Authority will continue discussions with our local and international stakeholders. We will engage them through consultations and dialogues, including public outreach activities to ensure their voices are heard, understood and addressed.

The Authority will also forge partnerships with policy makers, business and non-government organizations and international institutions to work towards common and shared responsibilities in the areas of shipping, maritime, logistics, environment, sustainable development and international trade.

9. Transparency in Decision-Making

Transparency in decision-making is vital to our business operations. The Authority will make available to the public our financial reports, fiscal year revenues, and updates about Canal operations and the modernization program.

The Authority will establish transparent processes, sustainable conclusions and support assumptions and decisions with real data. The Authority will always consider viable alternatives and options and document its work every step of the way.

10.Commitment to Financially Sound Management

Sound financial management is a fundamental prerequisite of the Authority’s core business. The Authority will maintain strong financial accountability and practice prudent decision-making that will ensure its competitiveness and financial success.

11. Securing the Safety of Ships, People and the Canal

The safety of employees and navigating vessels is a primary responsibility for the Canal and its management. The Authority will make every effort to protect the Canal, its employees and customers. The Authority will constantly strengthen security, install state-of-the-art systems, train and equip employees, and enhance security personnel at the Canal.

The Authority will closely coordinate with Panama’s security forces and international institutions to ensure the security and safety of ships transiting the Canal.


About the Panama Canal Authority
The Panama Canal Authority is the autonomous agency of the Government of Panama in charge of managing, operating and maintaining the Panama Canal. The operation of the Panama Canal Authority is based on its organic law and the regulations approved by its Board of Directors. For more information, please refer to the Panama Canal Authority’s Web site:

For nearly 90 years, the Panama Canal has served as the global gateway – a pathway for the shipment of major world commodities. Since the end of 1999, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) assumed the responsibility for the management, operation and modernization of the Canal and the protection and conservation of its watershed. In the past four years, the ACP has made significant strides – shifting to a market-oriented business model focused on customer service and reliability, making major capital investments for new and modern equipment and machinery, increasing safety and operational efficiency for customers, decreasing the time it takes ships to travel through the Canal and widening and deepening sections of the waterway. An important transportation link, the Canal services more than 140 different transportation routes from every corner of the globe. It is where major trading routes of the world connect and intersect providing safe, reliable and secure passage for all vessels.