Panama is unaware of Iranian-owned vessels registered in the country

Stock photo of a tanker at sea
Panama's maritime authority denies knowledge of Iranian-owned ships on its registry following U.S. concerns. The U.S. urged Panama to ban Iranian ships flagged by Washington. Panama, with the world's largest shipping registry, offers flags of convenience for ships without ties to the country. No formal de-registration requests have been made since 2020.
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Panama’s maritime authority stated that it had no knowledge of Iranian-owned ships in its registry after the United States expressed concerns. The U.S. had urged Panama to ban Iranian ships sanctioned by Washington from using its flag, as there were fears that Panamanian-flagged ships were being used to transport Iranian oil. Panama confirmed that it had not received any requests for de-registration since 2020. With over 8,000 ships flying its flag, Panama has the world’s largest shipping registry and allows for “flags of convenience” that enable ship owners to register their vessels in a foreign country for a fee without supervision.

The Central American country’s maritime industry plays a significant role in global shipping, attracting ship owners looking for convenient registration options. Panama’s registry provides a flexible and cost-effective way for ship owners to operate under its flag. The United States’ concerns about potential Iranian vessels using the Panamanian flag underscore the importance of ensuring transparency and compliance within the maritime industry. Despite the U.S. authorities’ call for action, Panama asserted that it had not officially been requested to de-register any ships suspected of violating sanctions.

As Panama navigates these challenges and maintains its reputation as a key player in the shipping industry, the issue of sanctions evasion and regulatory compliance remains a critical concern. The country’s stewardship of its shipping registry is essential to upholding international maritime standards and preventing illicit activities. By staying vigilant and responsive to international calls for action, Panama can continue to foster a transparent and accountable maritime environment for ship owners and industry stakeholders.

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