29 Mei 2015

[290515.EN.SEA] Weaker Trade, Slower US Spending, Sourcing Shift Blow to Panama Canal

THE Panama Canal is unlikely to see a return of the boom years of 1990s and early 2000s, according to Panama Canal Authority CEO Jorge Quijano.

In an interview with London's Financial Times, Mr Quijano said many US companies are bringing production closer to home, which contributes to slower growth in global trade, a trend also marked by a new frugality among American consumers.

The US economy is responsible for two-thirds of the canal's business.

"We believe some reshoring or nearshoring will take place," he said, and that was bad news for container traffic growth.

Containerships now account for a quarter of all trips through the canal and almost half the tolls collected.

The canal posted its best year in 2007 with 3,600 ships carrying 12.6 million TEU. In the 2014 financial year, 2,891 containerships passed through the canal carrying 11.6 million TEU.

In the first six months of the current financial year, container traffic has grown only 2.9 per cent, according to the Panama Canal Authority.

But US energy and grain exports would help increase traffic on the 100-year-old canal and validate an eight-year, US$5.3 billion expansion that is slated for completion in 2016.

For most of the past three decades world trade has grown at twice the rate of the global economy. Since the crisis, that has changed. After collapsing in 2009 and recovering in 2010, global trade has settled into a pattern of growing roughly at or below the rate of the world economy. 

Source : HKSG.

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