The expansion of the Panama Canal has opened the Caribbean Basin and the Gulf of Mexico to the age of Mega Shipping. Increased commerce with Cuba, or a remix of cargo from regional load centers could spell a reshuffling of trade lanes to accommodate larger ships. Is the U.S. Gulf prepared for this potential traffic?
Let’s face it, Christmas is just around the corner. Yes, here in the Northeast the leaves are still turning, the nation is engaged in fall football and we just wrapped up the World Series. But, Thanksgiving is a few short weeks away and some stores are already selling Christmas ornaments. Santa is almost here!
Cuba in the 40s and 50s was a playground for the rich and famous. The country’s economy was fueled by U.S. investment: some legal, some not so legal. A rich trade in coffee and tobacco found its way to America and the Cuban middle class imported everything from wearing apparel to washing machines. All that ended in 1959 when rebels under Fidel Castro tossed out Batista and threw Cuba into the dark ages.
Container ships exiting the Panama Canal either head into the Caribbean or make a sharp turn to starboard following the coast to load centers in Colombia, Venezuela and Trinidad. Ports along the upper coast of South America handle the bulk of “Hub and Spoke” traffic headed to neighboring countries as far south as Brazil.
It appears as though Canada and the U.S. are preparing for a trade war over softwood lumber exports. The U.S. and Canada have been long at loggerheads on the Canadian softwood exports to the U.S. and now that the one-year “standstill period” tacked onto the 2006 Canada-U.S. Softwood Lumber Agreement has expired, the chances for negotiating a timely agreement are dwindling.
Before its expansion, the Panama Canal was sending 4,500 TEU ships into the Caribbean with containers for trans-loading and final destination. Larger 8,500 TEU vessels transiting the Suez brought a little more volume to island hubs. Terminals in Jamaica and the Dominican Republic became trans-load centers for the Caribbean and US port range, while facilities in Colon could swing cargo to a wide range of destinations including South America.