Panama Canal chief scolded the U.S. for not expanding ports
Tuesday, February 07 2012 @ 05:35 PM EST
Contributed by: Don Winner
He made his comments to the logistics managers attending the inaugural trade show of MODEX, sponsored by the Material Handling Industry of America. In two years, the canal will celebrate its 100th anniversary with the completion of its expansion project. East Coast ports like Savannah, Jacksonville and Charleston hope to attract that added traffic. However, none are deep enough for the larger ships to enter fully loaded except at high tide. Only ports in New York and Virginia can now.
Georgia officials are busy lobbying Washington for federal funding to deepen the Savannah River shipping channel. South Carolina officials are working just as hard to block it in hopes of steering the new business to Charleston.
Aleman, who recognizes that the canal’s income depends on the attractiveness of all the East Coast ports, urged rapid action. “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,” he said. He also delivered a sales pitch to the attendees convention who weren’t public officials. He told them that the canal’s expansion makes it attractive for them as shippers to use, either for connection between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans or as a port for reaching inland destinations. “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.”
Aleman’s comments to the shippers at the inaugural MODEX convention was designed to convince them to opt for the all-water route from places like China to the U.S. East Coast, via the canal. Many shippers currently unload their wares at West Coast ports and use an overland route of rail or truck to get them to markets in the East.