The long-awaited Panama Canal expansion opened June 26 with a ceremonial ship passing through the waterway.
Related: Panama Canal set to open June 26
The U.S. grains industry has eagerly anticipated the completion of the expansion project since it was announced a decade ago.
“The Canal is a vital trade route for all grains and other agricultural commodities that are shipped from the U.S. Corn Belt to Asia,” said USGC Chairman and Nebraska farmer Alan Tiemann, who attended the ceremony. “In fact, with the completion of this project, it is estimated that the cost to transport grain between those two points will drop.”
This project was the largest expansion for the Canal in nearly a century. The multibillion dollar plan included the construction of a new set of locks that allowed for the passage of wider, longer and heavier loaded ships.
“The Canal’s expansion and resulting decreases in shipping costs and time will improve competitiveness of U.S. grains in growing markets,” Tiemann said. “This will help U.S. farmers gain access to new markets and continue to expand sales with buyers in our established markets who want more efficient shipments of grain.”
While the exact impact of the Canal’s expansion on the global grain trade remains uncertain, the Canal’s ability to handle Capesize vessels will create greater opportunities for exports.
Members of the U.S. grain trade can make plans to see the expanded Canal next February when the Council showcases it as part of the organization’s 14th International Marketing Conference and 57th Annual Membership Meeting that is scheduled to be held Feb. 13-15, 2017, in Panama City, Panama.
Related: Panama Canal set to open in May
Source: U.S. Grains Council
Expansion adds new lane and locks that are 70 feet wider and 18 feet deeper than 1914 canal. Project cost was $5.25 billion. – The Christian Science Monitor
When the Panama Canal first opened in 1914, it cut travel time between the U.S. west coast and Europe in half. - BBC
Exports of U.S. liquefied natural gas stand to benefit from the expansion. The expansion allows the Canal to accommodate 90% of the world’s LNG tankers. – USA Today