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Panama Canal preparations under full sail

The Panama Canal expansion - expected to be complete by 2014 - has seaports throughout the hemisphere readying for a new competitive landscape. For most, that means offering value-added services designed to move inbound goods faster than ever before. Here’s where the preparations currently stand.
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The Expansion of the Panama Canal (Third Set of Locks Project) is a project, proposed by the Panama Canal Authority (ACP), that will double the capacity of the Panama Canal by 2014 by allowing more and larger ships to transit.

By Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
February 24, 2011

Anderson adds that the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach need to act quickly before ports elsewhere use the current reputation of the southern California ports to shift the focus of Asian import trade from the West Coast to other ports in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. “Although West Coast ports handled nearly 70 percent of the traffic coming from Asia until recently, the reanalysis away from Southern California ports will gain because of the widening of the Panama Canal,” adds Anderson.

At the same time, say many analysts, a new parity is emerging among all North American ports—an unforeseen consequence of new investment in infrastructure and services.

Cross-cultural agreements
By all observation, the West Coast ports and their service stakeholders have been on the same page when it comes to enhancing services. At the Port of Oakland, for example, the focus has been on enhancing warehousing and logistics facilities and creating seamless cold chain services for U.S. companies exporting their perishable products to China.

“China is a significant and rapidly growing market for U.S. food and agriculture products, but the lack of cold chain services is inhibiting the export potential,” says Omar Benjamin, the port’s executive director. “Our initiatives will help make it easier, safer, and faster to export U.S. commodities from California and distribute them throughout China.”

Late last year, Oakland and China Merchants Holdings International Company Limited (CMHI) entered into an agreement to strategically market and develop supply chain solutions for U.S. exports, particularly agricultural commodities and perishable products. CMHI is a leading public port operator in China with a strategic network of ports in China’s coastal regions. “The form and scale of this partnership is a first for the U.S. port industry,” says Benjamin.

Oakland’s Pacific Rim neighbor in the far reaches of British Columbia has a similar strategic service agreement, signed by Canada’s Prince Rupert Port Authority (PRPA) and Maher Terminals Holding Corp. recently.

Their “Level of Service Agreement” is designed to promote and better measure improvements in port performance and to enhance Prince Rupert’s role as a preferred gateway on the West Coast for Central Canada and U.S. Midwest markets. It establishes performance targets, customer service measures, and productivity indicators to improve the flow of containers through the Prince Rupert gateway, including specific times for unloading and loading containers between vessels and rail cars, dwell times at the terminal, and Canadian National (CN) transit times to markets in Canada and the U.S.

About the Author

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Patrick Burnson
Executive Editor

Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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