The Panama Canal services more than 140 different transportation routes from every corner of the globe and serves as a critical global link between commodities and consumers. The route linking the U.S. East Coast and Gulf Coast with Asia is increasingly becoming the most important, representing a significant portion of the more than 13,000 vessels that traveled through the Canal in 2002. The United States
, Japan and the People's Republic of China are the three largest users of the Canal. Sixty-eight percent of all Canal cargo originates from or is destined for the United States.
These insights and more were shared by Jerry Salazar
, chairman of the Panama Canal Authority
(ACP) Board of Directors, at the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH) conference in Durban, South Africa. Salazar stressed the important role of the Canal to world trade and presented the Canal's vision for its future. He attributed the operational success of the Canal and Panama's burgeoning ports to excellent management and the hard work of those at the Panama Canal Authority and others working in the Panamanian maritime industry:
"The shift to a market-oriented business model, major capital investments, intense focus on operational efficiency and increased safety has led to our achievements. In total, they are a prescription for what our clients need and want: safety and reliability. This is what the hard-working, world-class employees at the ACP strive for every day."