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Web Alert: US east coast hesitant on Panama expansion benefits

15 March 2016

According to a report by Boston Consulting Group, as much as 10% of container traffic between East Asia and the US could shift from west coast ports in the US to east coast ports by 2020 following the Panama Canal expansion. Nevertheless, east coast ports in the US remain cautious about the potential benefits. The canal’s new locks are due to open around the middle of the year and this will allow both more and larger ships to travel through the Panama Canal, however, larger ships may be limited to the west coast as at present the east coast ports are not ready to accommodate them.

New York/New Jersey is the busiest port complex on the US east coast and has dredged its harbour and is in the process of raising the Bayonne Bridge to welcome larger vessels, however the shift in container traffic will likely depend on whether further east coast ports follow suit. Some other east coast ports either have plans to create larger facilities or have already started to increase their infrastructure but many are concerned that the volumes of traffic may not be as large as had previously been anticipated and are wary of investing huge sums without a more certain return.