From Miracle Valleys
PANAMA CITY, March 8 (Reuters) – The volume of cargo flowing through the Panama Canal is expected to shrink this fiscal year, the canal’s top authority said on Wednesday, with experts warning that lower volumes could hurt Panama’s economy.
Canal administrator Ricaurte Vasquez said the institution forecasts that just 500 million tons of goods will be transported through the 80km transoceanic waterway in fiscal 2023, about 10.3 million fewer than the previous forecast.
Vasquez blamed part of the slowdown on Russia’s war in Ukraine, fears of a global recession and lower trade activity in China.
The canal is losing traffic from ships that once carried fuel and gas from the US to Asia but are now sailing to Europe, bypassing the Panama Canal, Vasquez told a conference.
“We’re losing about two daily liquefied natural gas (LNG) ship transits… We’ve partially offset that drop with higher prices,” Vasquez said.
The number of tons passing through the canal reached 518 million in 2022 and 516 million in 2021, according to official figures.
Nicolas Vukelja, former president of the Panama Chamber of Shipping, told Reuters that cargo will be down about 4% compared to the company’s prime years, which is “worrying” for the canal’s revenues.
“This will affect the economy of our country,” Edgar Urrutia, president of the Logistics Business Council, told Reuters, adding that the canal’s access to government coffers would decrease.
(Reporting by Milagro Vallecillos; Writing by Valentine Hilaire; Editing by Brendan O’Boyle and Sandra Maler)
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