A Look at Some of the Principal Commercial Ports in Central America
Puerto Cortes, Acajutla, Colon, and Balboa are among the most important commercial ports in Central America.
Fierce competition in global foreign trade has necessitated that Central American countries act to modernize the infrastructure found at their shipping ports. An example of one of the commercial ports in Central America that have recently been upgraded is Puerto Cortes.
Puerto Cortes is the most important seaport in Honduras and is on the country’s Atlantic coast. Its modern facilities now handle more than 80% of the country’s ocean import and export traffic. It is in close proximity to one of the country’s main industrial centers at San Pedro Sula.
Over the last several years the port’s manager, Operadora Portuaria Centroamericana (OPC), has worked on a project to finance, design, operate, and maintain a specialized container and cargo terminal. OPC was awarded a thirty-year concession to operate the facility in 2013.
Because of its proximity to the United States’ seaports on the Gulf and the East Coasts, Puerto Cortes was included in the US Container Security Initiative (CSI). Under this program, all containers that are exported from Puerto Cortez that are destined for the US are advance checked by US Customs on-site in Honduras. Puerto Cortes is equipped with five cranes to maximize its ability to handle a large volume of containers.
Another one of the important commercial ports in Central America is Acajutla. Ajacutla is a modern facility and is located on El Salvador’s coast on the Pacific Ocean. It is a multi-purpose facility that is administered by the Comision Ejecutiva Portuaria Autonoma de el Salvador (CEPA). It consists of three piers designated as A, B, and C, and has been designed to accommodate vessels of more than 400 feet in length. Despite being the country’s largest port, it does not have any operational cranes and must, therefore, rely on geared ships.
In addition to the Port of Ajacutla, El Salvador is also served by Puerto de la Union. This facility is located in the eastern part of El Salvador on the Gulf of Fonseca.
Another of the most important commercial ports of Central America are Colon and Balboa. Both are located in Panama. The Port of Colon is located at the Caribbean entrance of the Panama Canal. It includes the Manzanillo International Terminal and is the largest, most modern transshipment port in Latin America and one of the most modern in the world. Close to three million containers per year are processed at Colon.
The Pacific side of the Panama Canal is home to another one of the busiest commercial ports in Central America. The Port of Balboa is in a perfect geographic location to serve as an important distribution center for goods that are destined for the Far East, North America, the West Coast of South America, Central America, and the Caribbean. Forty hectares at the port are dedicated to the storage of containers. There are a total of five docks on-site that are available for use by container ships.
The Central American Group’s Grupo Maritimo is available to assist companies with shipping needs in the region. Grupo Maritimo has offices in commercial ports in Central America in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras covering the ports of Quetzal, Santo Tomas de Castilla, Puerto Cortes, Acajutla and Punta Gorda/La Union.