Ricaurte Vásquez Morales, Ph.D., an economist with more than 30 years’ experience in the public and private sector, has been sworn in as the new administrator of the Panama Canal for a seven-year term.
Vásquez stated: “Just a few months short of the 20th anniversary of the transfer of the Canal to the Panamanian people, we face a distinctly different reality today. Trade now travels along different routes.
“This new global reality, in which the canal operates, requires us to redefine and adapt our business. We must face this challenge with intelligence, courage and imagination.”
He succeeds Jorge Quijano, who completed his term as administrator on September 4 after seven years leading the Canal and more than 40 years at the waterway.
Vásquez will begin his term on September 30, 2019. His appointment takes place during a period of significant growth and record-breaking tonnage for the waterway, set forth by the opening of the expanded canal in June 2016.
He is the fourth Panamanian administrator of the Canal, following Quijano (2012-2019), Alberto Aleman Zubieta (1996-2012) and Gilberto Guardia (1990-96), who was the administrator of the Panama Canal Commission, the US federal agency that operated the Canal until 1999.
During the transition period Vásquez gradually joined the canal’s institutional and labour regulations and participated in the presentation of the canal budget for the 2020 fiscal year, in order to ensure a smooth succession.
The new canal administrator has more than 30 years’ experience in financial and international capital market management, financial consulting and in the public sector.
He served as minister for canal affairs and chairman of the Panama Canal Board of Directors (2004-2006), deputy administrator (2000-2004) and finance director (1996-2000) for the waterway.
He was responsible for the financial transition of the Panama Canal to Panamanian administration, in compliance with the 1977 Torrijos-Carter Treaties, including the closure of operations of the Panama Canal Commission, the US federal agency responsible for the administration and operation of the canal until the end of 1999.
He also served in public administration as minister of planning and economic policy, minister of economy and finance, and chief debt negotiator for the refinancing programme of Panama.
In the private sector, he held several positions at General Electric between 2008 and 2015, including executive director, vice president, and CEO for Central America and the Caribbean.