PANAMA CITY, Panama, April 27, 2005 – The past, present and future of the Panama Canal was the focus of an annual conference (CADE) held by a group of prominent Panamanian businessmen. A who’s who of Panamanian business and government, the conference was held in Panama City at the Caesar Park Hotel April 21-23. President Martin Torrijos opened it Thursday night. Friday’s speakers included former Panamanian government officials and former Canal officials. Other speakers included a local historian, Dr. Celestino Araúz, who talked about the history of the Canal, and a local sociologist, Dr. Raúl Leis, who presented research of Panamanian society and what it means to be a Panamanian.

The message of the conference was clear. Under Panamanian operation:

  • The Canal is managed better than ever;
  • Trade is booming;
  • The Canal’s importance is growing;
  • And, that the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) should seriously consider expansion – building an additional lane to allow more traffic and wider ships.

The greater part of Saturday’s presentations were done by ACP officials: Corporate Planning and Marketing Director Rodolfo Sabonge discussed the past, present and future trends in Canal demands and forecasts; Maritime Operations Director Jorge Quijano discussed the Canal’s operation and capacity; Engineering Director Agustin Arias discussed modernization and improvements; Department of Security Director Juan Hector Diaz talked about the Canal’s commitment to the environment; and Chief Financial Officer Jose Barrios explained financial aspects of the ACP.

Canal CEO Alberto Alemán Zubieta addressed the conference participants and shared the status of the ACP’s Master Plan – the Canal’s strategic, long-term business plan that will guide the waterway to the year 2025 and provide the recommendation on whether to expand the Canal.

“A decision on whether to expand the Canal will not be taken lightly. We have commissioned numerous studies that thoroughly look into the engineering, economic, financial, social and environmental aspects of Canal expansion. The future of Panama lies in the maritime industry cluster and the Canal is at its center. The Panama route is unique for its geographic location and we hope to continually make the waterway relevant, competitive and a contributor to world trade,” said Mr. Alemán Zubieta.

Speaking in support of the ACP’s management and endorsing a potential expansion were Bert van Grieken of P&O Nedlloyd and Captain Cai of COSCO. Panama’s Minister of Economy and Finance and ACP Chairman of the Board of Directors Dr. Ricaurte Vásquez wrapped up the conference by highlighting that expansion will be determined if it proves profitable and a smart strategic business move.

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:

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 citizens of Panama.