Canal construction ahead next 7 years

Dan Grech Sep 4, 2007


Scott Jagow: In Panama yesterday, there was a huge explosion. It was planned. Fifteen tons of explosives were used to collapse Panama’s Paradise Hill, so the Panama Canal can be expanded. It’ll take about seven years to do this. It will almost certainly reshape global trade. From our Americas Desk at WLRN, here’s Dan Grech:

Dan Grech: The Panama Canal already handles 5 percent of world trade, but its narrow, shallow locks are the aquatic equivalent of a two-lane highway.

Longer, deeper locks will be a sort of superhighway for a new generation of giant cargo ships.

Bob McMillan is former chair of the Panama Canal Commission and author of “Global Passage.” He says these new ships can carry 12,000 containers — more than double the current maximum.

Bob McMillan: The larger the ship, the less cost to transport the goods in the ship.

And that could mean cheaper Asian goods in the U.S.

McMillan says the expansion will also help U.S. exporters. Currently one-fifth of all canal cargo is grain from mid-America.

McMillan: That grain will continue to flow, it will be cheaper to flow, benefiting the farmers throughout the whole Midwest.

And benefiting Panama, the project is expected to create 35,000 new jobs.

I’m Dan Grech for Marketplace.

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