Panama Canal Expansion
The $5.25 billion expansion of the Panama Canal will either dramatically boost East and Gulf Coast container trade or disappoint their expectations of gaining more cargo. But the opening of much larger locks in 2015 is already boosting prospects for more exports to Asia from U.S. Gulf ports of LNG, coal and grain cargos.
What is certain is that the doubling of capacity on the connector of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans will change the way the world¹s shipping lines ply their global routes when the project is completed. The doubling of the canal’s capacity will allow shippers to bring their Asian goods to the Eastern and Gulf coasts for less money. That’s largely because the new locks will be able to handle larger vessels that can carry nearly three times as many containers. The project is also expected to bolster Panama’s strategic positions as a transshipment hub and business center for much of Central and South America.
For general developments at the Panama Canal, see also JOC’s Panama Canal News page.
News & Analysis
Fiscal year 2013 brought a slight decrease in Panama Canal tonnage, in part because of continuing weak demand in the United States and Europe and the general slowdown of emerging market economies. Canal traffic was also impacted by the maritime industry’s shift toward larger, more energy-efficient vessels, which are unable to transit the canal until the expansion program is completed.