Annual Review & Outlook 2013: Panama Canal Authority

Jorge QuijanoWe had another record in PC/UMS (Panama Canal Universal Measurement System) tonnage recorded during fiscal year 2012 despite a 0.95 percent decrease in transits. Weaker demand in the U.S. and Europe was compensated by healthy growth in the developing world, particularly, Latin America and Asia. This historical milestone of 333.7 million PC/UMS tons was the result of the capability and management of the Panama Canal administration, the quality of its service, and the role of the country in global trade.

We foresee new challenges coming up in 2013 as slow growth in the U.S. and the recession in the eurozone continue to impact global demand. Yet, the global economy will become stronger as countries adopt new debt management policies, straighten their budgets, and the global financial system strengthens. Economic growth might not be as fast as it previously was, but it will be on a more sustainable basis.

In container shipping, we expect charter rates to remain low as fleet capacity expands with newer and larger vessels coming online. Moreover, improving global trade conditions will further the drive on the trend of containerization with exporters seeking to improve cargo handling and shippers seeking to maximize efficiency. New products will be containerized as new markets get discovered.

The Panama Canal expansion project continues to progress. The new lane of traffic along the Panama Canal will double capacity and allow more traffic and longer, wider ships to get to markets with improved economies of scale. This is certainly being welcomed by global trade participants as many U.S. ports prepare to receive future trade volumes. Over the medium to long term, there will be a need to increase spending in infrastructure that will impact positively in the resilience and sustainability of the supply chain.

In summary, we expect 2013 to be slightly better than 2012 in terms of conditions for global commerce and the health of shipping industry. Better supply-chain management strategies combined with optimized shipping routes will help stabilize revenue over the long term.

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