According to the Review of Maritime Transport 2018 published by the United Nations Trade and Development, UNCTAD (please refer to UNCTAD Summary review on Shipping 2018) Colombia has the best maritime connectivity in South America and the second best in Latin America (Central and South America) with a score of 50.1 over 100 and closely under Panamá, which scored 56.6 over 100.
“Colombia has been able to benefit from its geographical position near the Panama Canal, with ports in the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean. Thus, it is the best connected South American country, according to the Unctad Transatlantic Transport Connectivity Index (LSCI), “says Jan Hoffmann, principal author of the Review of Maritime Transport 2018 report and director of the trade and facilitation section of Unctad to Portafolio.
Jan Hoffmann further explains, ithat the LSCI is created as a compendium of data such as the “number of vessels, their maximum size, their total cargo capacity and the number of companies and services they provide to and from each country.”
In addition to the LSCI, according to UNCTAD, Colombia has the largest number of shipping companies operating in national ports which also evidences its competitive maritime conectivity.
“There are currently 32 transatlantic shipping companies that provide regular services to and from Colombian ports, more than any other country in Central or South America. Colombia has also been able to accommodate ships with more than 12,000 TEU of cargo capacity that are deployed in services along the west coast of South America and Mexico. Among the Latin American countries, Colombian carriers still have access to a relatively large number of carriers, “says Hoffmann.
Unfortunately, the favorable maritime connectivity of Colombia is due to its natural conditions; having coasts in both the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans, its proximity to the channel, and the diversity of cargo types that are traded. Furthermore, in order for Colombia to maintain and develop this advantage, it must take into account:
The priority of ensuring the accessibility of increasingly larger vessels to national ports, particularily Barranquillla and Buenaventura. Access channels must have the necessary depth that other neighbouring ports guarantee, if not, shipping lines May divert their services to Balboa-Panama or Callao-Peru.
Colombian ports must not only function as second generation ports, they must evolve with the vanguard of world ports, that is, becoming logistics centers, efficiently exchanging information with the shipping lines, vessels, customs, clients; ensuring operational standards and data flow, offer a portfolio of services to the shipping lines and their customers, and finally to adopt the social and environmental standards of the global port industry.
Likewise, and how it has been emphasized, the lack of a maritime and port ministry in Colombia does not allow the nation to make strategic planning of the sustainable development of its oceans, maritime connectivity and other maritime activities that would benefit the country economically and socially. A necessary hybrid approach that can ensure the interests of all parties (public, private and education) in order to promote this connectivity and project it as a source of wellbeing for port cities and their inhabitants must be a priority for the current Government.