Monday, January 7, 2013

Roots of the Canal

Things to know about the Panama Canal – past, present and future.

It’s new and improved. After 99 years of allowing maritime shipping to avoid South America’s lengthy and treacherous Cape Horn route, the Panama Canal is two years from completion of its first major makeover, allowing modern container ships much bigger than the current “Panamax” vessels.

The increase in size is a potential game-changer, allowing new logistics strategies for getting Asian-produced goods to East Coast ports. Savvy supply chain managers are already working to factor the new capacity into their network optimization models, to take advantage of increased international shipping flexibility.

Infrastructure projects are in full swing in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico ports, to take advantage of the increased traffic. New York and Miami are preparing major port expansions, and Charleston is planning to build the “load center port of the future,” with large terminals, harbor deepening, expanded road and rail access.

The prospect is for more two-way traffic, both increased imports and the export of American-produced goods, particularly commodities such as food products, for emerging markets in the Middle East, India and Africa.

More expansion is on the horizon. When the third set of locks opens in mid-2015, that won’t be the last time the Panama Canal Authority expands the canal, say industry insiders. Panama – the country – which recently finalized a free trade agreement with the United States, is hoping to leverage its increased through shipping and central location in a bid to become the Singapore of the Western Hemisphere.

Kirk Shearer
800-989-0054 x103

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