Panama Canal Expansion Drives International Shipment Growth

Panama Maritime Authority approves new container shipping terminal


“In Florida, there’s a lot of energy primarily towards North/South trade with Brazil and other emerging Latin American nations,” said Carver. “There are ports here that are positioning themselves for the reopening of Cuba. So, you’re starting to see some kind of positioning in the Florida ports for more Latin America and Caribbean trade. The larger vessels stimulate more trade through the Suez Canal and that’s a big factor for the ports that are further up the East Coast as they are positioned for that traffic.”

As a result, the East Coast is set for such discretionary cargo as furniture and tools (such as hammers and screws) that doesn’t necessarily become obsolete as quickly and can travel the less-costly and more efficient route from such countries as Asia to the U.S.

The West Coast will continue to be dominated by high-valued goods and will remain strong as it relates to speed-to-market cargo—such as electronics and apparel—and similar items that have to be on store shelves relatively quickly, according to Carver.

“On the export side, there is more of a trend towards containerizing cargo,” Carver added. “There is more energy now towards finding ways of filling up containers with grain, lumber, wood and other products that are being exported out of the U.S. to try and create more of a balance between inbound imports and outbound exports of containers.”

Transshipment terminal impacts

As a result of the PCCP, Super Post-Panamax and other vessels will be able to transit via the new locks and transfer cargo at the new PCCP terminal to and from smaller container ships capable of serving the existing ports of call.

“The project in Panama is a vital part of the overall system because these 10,000 TEU ships that are going to be coming through the canal are not going to be able to land at every port in the U.S. or in the Caribbean,” said Carver. “They’re going to need to offload cargo on the Atlantic side so that the smaller vessels can pick that cargo up and take those containers where they need to go. It’s part of the overall system and the government of Panama is relying upon the private capital to come in and build that infrastructure—and that is what we are responding to.”

In addition to creating opportunities for smaller U.S. ports, other opportunities—including those in warehousing, logistics and processing—also exist as a result of the expansion.

“There are certain logistics functions that will increase with these larger vessels and the demand to get cargo out of the ocean container and into the land and road containers,” said Carver. “You’ll see more transloading at near-port locations. On the inland side, you’ll see larger scale, rail-served inland ports developing to be able to provide economies of scale on the land side to connect better to the inland population centers to really combine the import and export traffic into more centralized locations,” he concluded.

Jones Lang LaSalle’s Project Development Services group will soon begin to administer the bid tender process for the initial dredging and related marine construction elements. Additionally, it expects PCCP to announce its selected operator later this year.

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