17-18/2016 Panama-papers vs canal
There is no dearth of appealing places to be on our beautiful planet. Besides your imagination’s own private oasis, as described by ITJ editor-in-chief Christian Doepgen on page 31 of this issue, I’m also thinking of a few real places that can easily be localised by your hand-held device that is linked up to a satellite navigation system. My colleagues and I are on the road a lot these days, attending industry events in some of these fascinating places far and wide – São Paulo, Basel, Johannesburg, Zurich, Moscow, Geneva, Tangiers and Panama. Yes, really, Panama! I’ve never been to the Central American country, and unfortunately my colleague will only be able to tell me what it’s like there after this issue has been put to bed.
One positive image is that «the canal state» washed by the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and straddling the narrowest point of the Central American Isthmus and connecting the two American subcontinents, has played a key role for the shipping, transport and logistics industries, and thus for world trade, since 1914.
One the negative side, the country seems to be a rather popular place for pragmatic «entrepreneurs», as we’ve heard in the past few weeks. I can’t say I’m surprised by the fact that a few names from our industry have also appeared in the context of the revelations concerning 214,000 tax-evasion entities.
There are more names from Pakistan though, with an oil company belonging to the Bhutto clan having said to have paid bribes to Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq, for example. India has its share of big names caught out red-handed too, with Bollywood hero Amitabh Bachchan causing a furore by playing a dubious role in shipping lines registered offshore. Italy, in turn, has seen shipowners Gabriele Benfenati and Giovanni Fagioli in the identity parade.
Oxfam, an NGO campaigning for global justice, has stated that the USA experiences systematic tax abuse, with the 50 largest firms there said to be hiding around USD 1.3 trillion in tax havens – far more even than the GDP of large economies such as Spain or Mexico. I’m interested in finding out who and what else gets put in the spotlight on account of analyses of the data leaked out of the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca & Co.
In the meantime we’ll continue to present you with the latest news and reports from the global transport and logistics industry. Our packed annual Maghreb Special is included in this issue.
Enjoy your read!
Head of airfreight