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IDB launches in Panama the Mesoamerican Observatory on Freight Transport and Logistics

IDB and Georgia Tech sign agreement to create an observatory aimed at improving competitiveness in the Mesoamerican region

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and Georgia Tech Panama Logistics Innovation & Research Center signed an agreement to institute the Mesoamerican Observatory on Freight Transport and Logistics. The Observatory is aimed at generating information and statistics to enhance policy making toward increasing competitiveness in Mesoamerica. 

Tomas Bermudez, IDB Country Representative in Panama, and Don Ratliff, Executive Director of Georgia Tech Panama Logistics Innovation & Research Center, signed the agreement in the presence of His Exc. Ricardo Martinelli, President of Panama, and His Exc. Porfirio Lobo Sosa, President of Honduras, during the opening ceremony of Expo Logistica Panama 2012. The event was attended by Mr. Ruben Berrocal, Panama´s Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, and Mr. Roberto Quijano, Panama´s Minister of Trade and Industry, as well as by public authorities and entrepreneurs of a wide number of countries in the region. 

“The Observatory is launched in a crucial moment in Mesoamerica, characterized by a substantial increase in transport and logistics activities, and by a sense of urgency to overcome the gaps in the region in the areas of infrastructure, freight transport services, logistics and trade facilitation”, said Mr. Bermudez. 

In Mesoamerica, nearly 90 percent of intra-regional trade relies on road transportation. In addition, logistics costs in Mesoamerica make up to 30 percent of sales price, compared to the average 9 percent of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). 

“We are delighted that the Georgia Tech Panama Logistics Center has been selected by the IDB to aid in improving transport and logistics performance by becoming the data repository for all of Mesoamerica. Poor logistics performance in this area is the biggest barrier to increasing regional trade", said Mr. Ratliff. 

The IDB has assigned $950,000 in non-refundable financing from its Regional Public Goods Program to set up the Mesoamerican Observatory, whose goals are to enhance knowledge on this sector across the region, measure and compare logistics performance, harmonize information, develop regional databases and provide training to improve performance in Mesoamerican countries. 

Georgia Tech Panama Logistics Center was selected as the executing agency for this project based on its wide experience and knowledge on freight transport and logistics, and will work in close coordination with the public and private sectors of beneficiary countries, creating a regional network to generate information.

A component of the Mesoamerican Project, the Mesoamerican Observatory will join the network of observatories that IDB is supporting in countries such as Peru, Colombia, Paraguay and Uruguay, and that feed the Regional Observatory on Freight Transport and Logistics in Latin America and the Caribbean.

About Georgia Tech Logistics Innovation & Research Center in Panama

The Georgia Tech Logistics Innovation & Research Center was established in Panamá in 2010 by an agreement between the Georgia Institute of Technology in the United States and the National Secretary of Science Technology and Innovation (SENACYT) of Panamá.