US slowdown hits Panama Canal transits

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 The decline in the US economy has taken its toll on Panama Canal transits in the second quarter of the year but movements of passenger and dry bulk vessels increased significantly, according to the Panama Canal Authority (ACP). These metrics are based on operations from January to March 2008, the second quarter of the ACP’s 2008 fiscal year, and are compared with Q2 of FY 2007.

Total Canal transits fell 2% during Q2 – from 4,053 to 3,971 transits. Panama Canal/Universal Measurement System (PC/UMS) tonnage also dropped 2.6% – from 80.4 million PC/UMS tons to 78.4 million PC/UMS tons. Passenger transits increased 34.8% – from 92 to 124 transits – while dry bulk transits rose 6.7%, from 586 to 625 transits and dry bulk cargo tonnage increased 10.4%, from 12.3 to 13.5 million PC/UMS tons.

Rodolfo R. Sabonge, ACP Vice President of Research and Market Analysis (pictured), said: “The ACP is on a strong operational and financial footing and we anticipate continued steady progress with the Canal expansion programme and other modernisation projects. Work is advancing on time and on budget, and, in fact, some projects are moving ahead of schedule,” he said.

“The slight drop in total transits and tonnage during the second quarter can be attributed in part to the slowdown in the US economy and the subsequent decrease in cargo shipments to and from US ports via the Canal. However, we have seen growth in other segments,” he added.