By: Elvia Bustavino.Vice Minister of Maritime Affairs of Panama. Deputy Administrator of the Panama Maritime Authority. President of Red MAMLa.

January 1, 2024 will be a very important date for trade facilitation, since the amendments to the Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic 1965, as amended, known internationally as Convention FAL-65, will come into force, which makes the Maritime Single Windows mandatory in all ports worldwide. 
The Convention, which was adopted by the International Maritime Organization - IMO, contains standards and recommended practices, rules to simplify the procedures, documents and formalities required, in order to improve the processes related to the arrival, stay and departure of international service vessels with the integration of digitalization and automation.
Additionally, it establishes the need to promote good practices, challenges and lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as recommendations to prevent corruption and illicit activities in the maritime sector.
Panama, Member State of the IMO and member of Category A of this organization, started since September 24, 2017, the first phase of the Panama Maritime Single Window - VUMPA, under the coordination of the Panama Maritime Authority - AMP, with the support of the Panama Canal Authority - ACP and other national entities, marking a milestone thanks to this State project of high impact for the national and international maritime community. Our "Panama Maritime Single Window" - VUMPA which, together with our infrastructure, connectivity, services, among others, has positioned our country as a world-class logistics reference in the region, currently providing the following benefits:

  • Reduction of costs to the client in the declaration process.
  • Transparency and improved productivity. The use of technology has been fundamental to avoid bad practices related to the falsification of documents, since there is a QR code that allows verification of the veracity of the documents.
  • Reduction in the use of paper and, therefore, support for environmental programs, saving approximately 300,000 forms/documents in a year.
  • Automated data control and management (Statistics and clear data).
  • Implementation of the Free Talk process for fuel and services in the anchorage.
  • Conduct 100% risk assessment prior to vessel arrival
  • Management of pre-arrival, arrival, and inspection information among the authorities involved, which allows for better decision making.
  • Saving approximately 3,260 hours of time per year by eliminating the Government reception inspection at the port, taking as a reference 25 port movements per hour.

Today we are at the stage of the "Single Charge" to electronically generate a unified charge for the fees and services generated by ship visits to the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Agricultural Development, the National Customs Authority and the Panama Maritime Authority, seeking speed in the processes, which is expected to be completed very soon. 

Undoubtedly, the journey of the Panama Maritime Authority and Panama with VUMPA has been valuable and profitable, with challenges inherent to the execution of projects of this magnitude and that involve investment, use of new technologies, changes in the usual way of working, development of new public policies, among others; which we have been able to transcend with the will and action based on good cooperation between the State and the industry.

As a Region, it is true that some ports still have challenges to overcome, not only related to the Single Maritime Windows and the technological tools to be used, but also those related to the technological culture of the users of the entire chain, those related to the strengthening of port governance for this purpose; however, the efforts made to have more competitive, safer, more efficient and more sustainable ports are appreciated and deserve to be highlighted.


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