Ms. Rosangela Diaz Malave
Partner & Commercial Manager
First of all, Rosangela, tell us please about the history of WLP Panama?
Thank you Bo. Well, WLP was founded in 2011. Then, we just offered warehousing services like storage, labeling, repacking, repalletizing, inventory control, etc. At that time, Juan Ignacio was the owner of the company. Four years ago, he decided to sell part of the company, so Julio and I took the opportunity. Since then, we are three partners in the company. Through us joining the company, we were able to implement the rest of the services in our portfolio, such as freight forwarding, project management, logistics & distribution, brokerage and cargo insurance. Next year we will celebrate our 10th anniversary as we continue growing every day, thanks to the confidence of our partners and customers.
You are also, no doubt, hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, but can you update the current situation in Panama for our readers? Does it impact your business generally?
Currently, the local economy is very affected due to the lockdown for so long (since March 13th). This lockdown involved restrictions for internal mobilization and even full weekends in complete lockdown. Since mid-September, the economic activity has been restored by sectors—construction, retail stores, malls, access to parks—and just yesterday, the hotels and the airport for foreigners to visit the country. However, the logistics sector was not restricted during the lockdown, and we managed to keep full operations with full staff. We even had an increase in our business because a lot of cargo, coordinated through our partners, had to remain in Panama because of the restrictions at the destinations. Since our warehouse is located in a Free Trade zone, such cargo could stay in Panama as in transit. Just now, we are starting to be able to ship such cargoes.
Panama is famous for many things but, in particular, the Panama Canal. Has business through the Canal been reduced during COVID-19 times?
During the months of April to September, canal activity was reduced due to several factors:
1) The cruise industry stopped during its peak time of the season.
2) Cargo from Asia was reduced due to several closing of industries, and no orders from the American market.
3) Car carriers were also a segment that was affected considerably because no one was ordering new cars.
4) The prices of oil that were down during the months of April to June caused the traffic to go around and avoid transiting the Panama Canal.
But now, the arrivals of vessels have increased to a point where the canal is struggling to fulfill the demand. There is a backlog of vessels waiting to transit, especially bulk carriers with coal to the USA for the winter season, and the container business is also booming with cargo to the US market. We have to keep in mind that the primary route through the Panama Canal is from Asia to the east coast of the USA. The pandemic lasted from April to June, which are the months with the lowest canal transit demand, so there was not so much of an economic impact.
Can you tell us a little about your experience in moving project cargo to/from Panama? Would you have some examples of that?
This service is my favorite because I have had several experiences and all of them different, one from another. For example, the Aggreko electric power stations in Curacao and Nassau. I had to coordinate the mobilization of all the generators and transformers in just one shipment to each destination, then attend to the reception and coordination of the logistics locally. The mobilization of all cranes, SPMT, turntables and machinery during the metro construction in Panama, including the customs temporary import, and then the demobilization to several destinations according to our customer’s request. Another project was a cement plant for which we received 2 chartered vessels, coordinated the discharge with more than 50 flatbeds alongside the vessel, and the mill ball was the last piece. It was over 150 tons. The operation took 3 days, day and night, and we attended at port during the duration of the operation. I could tell you more examples, maybe in the next conference, as I would be never ending because there are too many experiences, too many projects. As usual, the best parts are the learning from each shipment and gaining the customer’s satisfaction.
Can you organise transshipment via Panama to neighbouring countries?
Of course, that is one of our main services. Considering that we are located in the center of the continent, we have all the advantages to transship cargo all around: central, south, north and Caribbean. Our headquarters are located in the Colon Free Zone, including the warehouse with 2800 SQM where we receive the cargo in transit. Then, we move it by air, ocean or truck (in case of central America) once we receive the delivery instructions. Considering that we are located in a free trade zone, cargo remains inbound in our premises with unlimited time to go out. For more information and quotation, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
How about customs clearance in Panama. Is it difficult? Do you have a rule of thumb for easy customs clearance in Panama?
Based on my experience in other countries of Latin America, it is really easy and simle to expedite. Despite the fact that most of the customs procedures are not online yet, Panamanian customs has been working together with the Panamanian Freight Forwarders Association (APAC), of which we are members, and the Logistics Business Council of Panama (COEL) for implementation of the e-release—upload the documents into the customs system, etc.—that significantly improves the time to get the approval and dispatch the cargo to the final consignee.
Why did you start your career in logistics?
That is a funny story because that was 24 years ago. I was attending university, studying human resources administration, and a friend asked me to go with him to a job interview for the Italia Line. He didn’t know the job description and neither did I. Once there, the receptionist asked me if I was there to be interviewed too, and I said, “YES!” Fortunately, I had a resume in my backpack. Well, when the receptionist told me to go in, Captain Catanzaro checked my resume and told me, “It can not be true! It can not be possible! Are you born on November 4th?” I answered, ”Yes, why?” So he told me, “If you were born on November 4th, you must be as good as I am; you are hired!” Since then, I have been working and academically preparing in the logistics industry with passion, commitment, and high responsibility.
How should our readers reach you when needed?
Everybody can find me by:
Rosangela Diaz Malave
WhatsApp, telegram, WeChat: +50762172295