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The new Panama Canal: It’s all about connectivity

By Bob Trebilcock, Editor at Large
February 09, 2012

In 2014, the Panama Canal will celebrate its centennial. It will also celebrate the opening of the expanded Panama Canal, according to Alberto Aleman Zubieta, CEO of the Panama Canal Authority. 

The new locks, which are currently under construction, will expand the canal’s ability to handle ships nearly three times the size of current ships – an estimated 14,000 containers versus 5,000 container capacity today – and double the throughput capacity of the canal.

More importantly, Aleman said at Tuesday’s keynote address at MODEX 2012 in Atlanta, the expanded canal and the logistics capabilities of Panama can serve as the logistics hub of the Americas. “Panama is the only port with terminals in two oceans,” he said. “It is just 80 kilometers from ocean to ocean and we have more port cranes in Panama than Chile, Mexico and Brazil.”

In that sense, he added, the new canal is not so much about capacity, but connectivity.

“You can use Panama as a platform to connect the Americas and the Carribean,” he said. “That is important if you want to conquer those markets and expand your supply chain and your procurement capabilities.”

To take advantage of the new canal, Aleman added, the Unites States must think about investing in its transportation infrastructure, including expanded ports, new rail capacity and improvements in our highways. For instance, only the ports in Virginia and New York can presently handle the larger ships that will come through the canal.

“You must realize that you are in a globalized economy. If you do not do it, someone else will. If you don’t capture those markets, someone else will.”

About the Author

Bob Trebilcock
Editor at Large

Bob Trebilcock, executive editor, has covered materials handling, technology and supply chain topics for Modern Materials Handling since 1984. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484 and .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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