Shortly after the expanded Panama Canal inauguration on June 26th, the Danish giant Maersk welcomes the changes and said it is likely to include more services as part of their strategy.
Søren Toft, COO of the shipping line pointed out: “We look forward to seeing our larger vessels pass through the new locks. It is a very positive development for trade, Panama, and the region, and of course, the shipping lines that transit this important corridor every day”.
The shipping line also indicated that the expansion could boost its services between Asia and South America and from Asia to US East Coast.
Francisco Ulloa, Managing Director West Coast of South America at Maersk Line confirmed these intentions in an interview and added that despite FMI predictions about Latin America regional growth of only 1.5% during 2016, the new Panama Canal could embrace trade and change this forecast. However, Ulloa highlighted the urgent need for investment in terminals to be prepared for larger vessels.
“Ports need to be prepared, not only to receive Post-Panamax vessels but also to be productive. It does not work to receive larger vessels if it takes a week to unload cargo instead of 24 to 36 hours. It´s not optimal”, says Ulloa.
Meanwhile, Maersk plans to move this year up to 400 vessels for a combined 400,000 TEU and more than $100 million in Canal fees.
Nowadays, Panama Canal accounts 5% of global sea trade with a view to improving 3% due to the expansion that allows transit of Neo-Panamax vessels, with a capacity of 14,000 TEU.
The first vessel to pass the expanded Panama Canal from the Atlantic to Pacific was the Cosco Shipping Panama, a vessel with 9,500 TEU capacity.