The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has announced its plans to modify its existing toll structure to further incentivize the full container vessel market segment to utilize the canal in return voyages. The modifications are a result of the fluctuating demand from containership, LPG, and LNG vessels for the Canal as well as the productive capabilities of the recently built Neopanamax locks.
The new locks were built in 2016 amidst concerns that maritime traders would travel through the Suez Canal instead of the Panama Canal because of the former’s capacity to handle larger ships. Now with the Panamax expansion, the Panama Canal has increased its business, as the new locks grant 99 percent of the world’s container ships the ability to traverse the Canal.
Along with the Panamax locks, the proposed modifications to the Canal’s toll structure aim to bolster the Canal’s containership traffic. Panama Canal Administrator Jorge L. Quijano held a public hearing on Wednesday, July fifth after a 32-day formal consultation period for affected parties within the industry. Quijano believes, “The modified tolls will safeguard the Canal’s competitiveness, charge a fair price for the value of the route and provide a competitive service to the global shipping industry.”
Once negotiated and approved by the government of Panama, this new toll structure would greatly benefit container shipping companies and their client base. While the current political climate in the United States has not been conducive to a growing volume of maritime trade, the prevalence of Free Trade Agreements globally will continue to drive international commerce.
Ryan DelGaudio for the South Florida District Export Council