On February 17, the Communications and Transport Committee launched a debate on bill 197 aimed at amending Panamanian regulations on goods transport logistics. Submitted by Rolando Rodriguez (Partido Revolucionario Democrático – ruling party), the idea is to encourage more national companies to transport goods. At the time, the committee announced that a subcommittee would be set up to focus on inviting interested parties to ask questions and study the bill. The subcommittee will be chaired by committee president Victor Castillo (Partido Revolucionario Democrático – ruling party), Tito Rodriguez (Molirena – allied with the ruling party) and Eugenio Bernal (Partido Revolucionario Democrático – ruling party). The subcommittee is expected to begin its work in the next few weeks.
The bill includes the following:
- Cargo coming from fiscal warehouses, free zones, special investment zones or special economic areas and ports must be transported by national carriers.
- Cargo transport services contracted from any digital platform must be paid for electronically. The application must be registered with the General Directorate of Electronic Commerce (DGCE, for its acronym in Spanish) of the Ministry of Commerce and Industries (MICI, for its acronym in Spanish).
- The National Customs Authority (ANA, for its acronym in Spanish) now has to keep a registry of foreign cargo transporters and mixed companies moving through national territory.
- Cargo transport vehicles are obliged to submit a vehicle insurance policy with third-party damage coverage taken out with an insurance company having legal representation in Panama.
Furthermore, the National Customs Authority (ANA) announced that it will hold working groups to amend Law 30, on smuggling and customs fraud. The idea is to alter the legislation to include “new forms of crime which emerged with the rise in e-commerce.” Among the entities involved in the initiative are the Panamanian Chamber of Commerce, the Panamanian Association of Cargo Agencies and the Panama Chamber of Shipping. A reform bill is expected to be submitted in the short term.