Secretary-General receives Panamanian delegation

IMO Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos yesterday received a high-level delegation from the Republic of Panama on the occasion of its visit to London to present the Government of Panama's proposals on the future expansion of the Panama Canal.

H.E. Samuel Lewis Navarro, First Vice President and Minister for Foreign Affairs; Mr. Manuel Benítez, Deputy Administrator of the Panama Canal Authority; and H.E. Miss Liliana Fernández Puentes, Ambassador of the Republic of Panama to the United Kingdom and Permanent Representative to IMO were among those to visit the IMO Headquarters to meet the Secretary-General and speak to an ad hoc seminar.

The opportunity was taken to discuss matters of mutual concern in relation to the Organization's work and to address the potential impact of the proposed Canal expansion on international shipping. The meeting took place prior to a seminar on "Investment Opportunities and The Canal Expansion Proposal", during which both the Vice President and the Deputy Administrator put the case for the expansion, explaining why it has become necessary if the Canal is to continue serving shipping, trade and commerce efficiently and effectively. In concluding his opening remarks to the seminar, Secretary-General Mitropoulos thanked the delegation for coming to IMO to brief the maritime community on the ambitious project, which, he added, represented "an important development for the future of Panama - a development, which will have a serious and most certainly a beneficial impact on international shipping and trade as well".

The people of Panama will be asked later this year to decide by referendum whether to approve and go ahead with the proposed expansion and upgrade of the Panama Canal, which has been a vital trade artery since its inception in 1914.

Briefing 20, 14 June 2006

For further information please contact:
Lee Adamson, Head, Public Information Services on 020 7587 3153 ( or
Natasha Brown, External Relations Officer on 020 7587 3274 (