Panama Announces Expansion

Tuesday, April 25, 2006
The Chairman of the Panama Canal Authority's (ACP) Board of Directors announced its recommendation to build a new lane along the Panama Canal that will double capacity and allow more traffic. This is the result of comprehensive analyses and studies by the ACP. The project is estimated to cost $5.25 billion and will be paid entirely by users of the Canal through a graduated toll system. Dr. Ricaurte Vasquez M., Chairman of the ACP's Board of Directors, submitted the recommendation to President Martin Torrijos at a Town Hall meeting in Panama today. The president will discuss the recommendation with his Cabinet, make a recommendation to the National Assembly, and the process will culminate with the Panamanian people voting in a national referendum. "Today is an historic moment for the Panamanian people and the global shipping and maritime industry. After several years of analyzing and reviewing hundreds of studies and projections, we are recommending the expansion of the Panama Canal," said Dr. Vasquez. "Our vision is clear -- this project will be for the benefit of the people of Panama and world trade. Panama's geographic location is its destiny -- we aim to be at the center of global trade and become a great maritime hub. The time is right and the time is now."

The Economic Benefits An expanded Canal will benefit the people of Panama and world trade. The expansion will help maximize Panama's strategic, geographic location by enabling it to become an international maritime hub at the center of global trade. Expansion will also improve the flow of international commerce and facilitate the movement of goods through several important markets. It will increase capacity at one of the world's critical trade arteries; allow the vital "All-Water Route" to continue to grow; create more efficient service at the Canal, which would tighten the global supply chain and help goods get to market faster, thus saving time and money for both producers and consumers.

The Expansion Project Expansion would entail the creation of a new lane of traffic along the Canal through the construction of a new set of locks. Environmentally sound water-saving basins will be built alongside the new locks, which will reuse 60 percent of the water in each transit. This technology eliminates the need for constructing dams, flooding and displacing communities along the Canal's Watershed. This was also in keeping with ACP's adherence to sustainable development and environmental management best practices.

Financing for the Project This project will be paid for by Canal customers through a graduated system of tolls. As always, the ACP will consult with customers on the new tolls pricing system and will take into account their specific needs. Potential construction is slated for completion by 2014. All creative means will be employed by the ACP to stretch capacity until the construction is completed. The ACP forecasts that the Canal will reach full capacity by the time the expanded Canal is operational.

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