Panama Canal Expansion Boots US East Coast Port Volumes

File photo: ACP

Posted by Eric Haun

As the Panama Canal's newly operational expanded lane
helps set monthly tonnage records, the project's impacts are
being felt along the U.S. East Coast.

Effects of the canal's expansion are reverberating well-beyond
Panama's shores, as ports around the world are in varying stages
of work to deepen and widen their channels to accommodate the
growing number of Neopanamax vessels that can now transit the

Now nearly one year on from the first vessel transit through the
expanded waterway, many ports are benefitting, particularly those
along the U.S. East Coast.

As it was for the canal, January 2017 was also a record month for
many U.S. East Coast ports, including the Ports of Charleston,
Philadelphia and Savannah, which recorded 28 percent, 34 percent
and 16 percent container volume growths, respectively. For the
Port of Charleston, its monthly cargo record follows an annual
cargo record set in 2016, after handling 2 million TEUS.

Ports in Virginia and Baltimore also saw record-breaking volumes
in 2016. The Port of Virginia handled more than 2.65 million
TEUs, a 4.2 percent increase compared to the year prior, while
the port of Baltimore handled more than 10 million tons of
general cargo and a record number of containers. This growth can
be attributed in part to the canal, which has and will continue
to draw additional cargo volumes to the region, as ports continue
to expand.

In Florida, PortMiami is "Big Ship Ready", having completed more
than $1 billion in infrastructure improvements, including its
Deep Dredge Project. The project was responsible for increasing
Miami's channel depth up to 52 feet, and allowing the port to
welcome its first Neopanamax vessel on July 9, 2016. Other ports,
such as the Ports of Virginia and Charleston, have plans to
invest millions of dollars for dredging projects, infrastructure
improvements and other work to enhance their logistics
capabilities. The Port of New York and New Jersey recently
announced plans to increase investments to $200 million at the
Port Elizabeth facility.

U.S. East Coast Ports will not be the only ones to benefit from
the expansion. So far, the Panama Canal has welcomed 11 new
services through the waterway as global shipping lines are
redrawn to take advantage of the economies of scale the canal
provides. The ACP anticipates that as this number continues to
grow, so too will the expansion's impact across the world.

"The expanded canal has had a global ripple effect on maritime
trade," said the Panama Canal's Strategic Relations Manager,
Marianela Dengo. "However, the true impact will be felt gradually
over the long-term, and we're very excited for the growth still
to come."

Feb 28, 2017

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