Specifically, President Torrijos is being honored for his efforts to spearhead the US$5.5 billion project to expand the 92-year-old Panama Canal, and to promote continued development of Panama’s seaports.
“The Panama Canal expansion will have a profound effect on United States, Canadian, South American and Caribbean maritime businesses and will help facilitate the movement of the dramatic increases in global trade expected in the coming years,” said AAPA President and CEO Kurt Nagle.
“The history of Panama is intimately linked to the history of the oceans touching its coasts,” remarked Agustín Díaz, managing director of the Curaçao Ports Authority and chairman of AAPA’s Latin American Delegation. “The actions developed during President Torrijos’ administration have deep significance for the Panamanians as well as for the international maritime industry.”
To complement the Panama Canal’s expansion, President Torrijos has proposed a new $600 million “mega-port” on the Pacific side of the Panama Canal. Construction of two new locks, beginning this year, will enable post-Panamax size ships (those wider than 106 feet), with maximum container capacities of 12,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units), to pass through the canal. That is about three times the canal’s current ship capacity.
Prior to becoming Panama’s chief executive, President Torrijos received a bachelor of arts in economics and political science from Texas A&M University. He then went on to serve as Panama’s Vice Minister of Government for four consecutive years, which earned him recognition from the United Nations and the government of Spain. In 1999, he was elected leader of his political party (the largest in Panama), which led to his appointment as a candidate for the presidency of the Republic of Panama in 2004.