In a game-changing development for the wider Caribbean Basin, the expanded Panama Canal has been officially inaugurated.
The first commercial transit of a so-called “Neopanamax” vessel occurred through the expanded canal on Sunday, with a crowd of more than 25,000 attending the inauguration ceremony.
“More than 100 years ago, the Panama Canal connected two oceans. Today, we connect the present and the future,” said Jorge Quijano, CEO and administrator of the Panama Canal. “It is an honor to announce that what we did it together: providing this great connection to the world. This is the beginning of a new era.”
The COSCO Shipping Panama made the first passage through the Agua Clara Locks on the Caribbean Sea side of the country and concluded its transit through the Cocoli Locks on the Pacific side.
It is anticipated that the expanded canal will provide greater economies of scale to global commerce, along with adding new routes, liner services and segments such as liquefied natural gas.
“We are thrilled that we currently have 170 reservations for Neopanamax ships, commitments of two new liner services to the Expanded Canal, and a reservation for the first LNG vessel, which will transit in late July,” Quijano said. “Our customers care that their supply chain is reliable and that they have a diversity of shipping options. And the Canal has always been reliable; today, we offer the world new shipping options and trade routes.”