Let’s assume you bought a shipping container from portcontainerservices.com.au in Australia. You’re using the container to ship your products to a country in Central America. Chances are, it is going to pass through the Panama Canal.
One cannot help but think that American glee at the apparent faltering of the planned expansion of the Panama Canal is more a case of having their noses put out of joint rather than any serious concern about a resulting economic threat.
Is it fair enough to assume that, having not only built the canal in the first place but also to have operated it for 90% of its existence, the American company Bechtel would assume that it would “win” the contract for any expansion work? You could certainly understand their disappointment. But was it justified?
The answer has to be firmly in the negative for the implications for any port container services will be minimal irrespective of which company got the contract in the first place. What is more concerning is that the project is costing more than was first envisioned and unless settled could have major repercussions for all United States port services and container businesses which have relied so long on the canal.
The consortium which won the contract – a hybrid with addresses in Spain and Italy – overcame the US government backed company Bechtel but only a careful check of the projects accounts will see how limited was the ambition of the European partnership against the largesse of its American opponents.
One can credit the concerns of the American company especially for the number of its container ports and as a consequence all their shipping company accounts doing business directly through the canal, evidenced by the number of contacts made by American concerns with the Panamanian government.
In fact the US government has gone so far as to say that both its Atlantic and Pacific ports would be seriously affected by any delays in the completion of the expansion project with something like 90% of container port services coming through the canal. A substantial number of businesses would suffer.
By all accounts, as the container shipping industry has expanded, so has the size of the container ports having to accommodate the burgeoning increase both in the numbers of containers and its subsequent increase in container shipping. The investments made by such ports as Baltimore, Miami and Norfolk in their expansion to handle the container shipping lines expected through the expanded canal are such that they will be severely checked if work on the canal grinds to a halt.
The container shipping services and associated businesses involved on the eastern seaboard ports will benefit substantially from the canal expansion as these ports will be enabled to handle the increased container capacity provided not only by the increased number of container shipping but also by the monolithic size of the vessels carrying such a huge payload.
In fact it will be great business indeed if these ports are not limited by the number of containers they can handle and the number of shipping lines that utilise their port container services. Hence the reason that much depends on the hasty completion of the Panama Canal expansion project which must be allowed to go ahead unchecked if American business interests are not to suffer.
The American government may well have thought their noses were put out of joint when the European concern won the contract. It stands to lose far more if so much investment in its container ports proves to be money not well spent.
With an insatiable thirst for information about the technology and construction industry, Seth Robin Pyle is, on the one hand self-confident but on the other, a realist. With a Master’s degree in Urban Planning, this architecture graduate loves nothing better that o solve problems on the job. He is a good listener, communicating well with his contractors and being creative with his solutions on spatiality, design and construction, once he has heard his contractors’ input.