Panama Canal widening to bring 200 more ships to port of Sines

With Europe still wondering what the consequences of Brexit will do for all kinds of trade, one avenue of business to Portugal is definitely on its way up.

The widening of the Panama Canal – inaugurated last weekend by colossal Chinese ship Cosco Shipping – will mean an increase in annual traffic to the port of Sines of at least 200 vessels.

Minister of the Sea Ana Paula Vitorino and president of the Sines port João Franco were in Panama for the inauguration, and it was Franco who told reporters what advantages the canal’s widening would bring.

“We expect that from now, the port of Sines will receive at last 200 more ships per year, particularly container vessels,” he said.

Público explained that “in practice, this means a 10% increase in the total volume of ships and 20% in container vessels. Sines expects to receive between 2,000 and 2,100 commercial ships by the end of 2016”.

The new Panama Canal has taken over 10 years to create at a cost of around €7 billion. The widening of this historic trade link between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans is designed to double habitual traffic to 600 million tons of merchandise per year, says Público.

Last Sunday’s inauguration drew crowds of enthusiastic supporters but out of 70 heads of state to be invited, only a dozen showed up.

As the Guardian explained: “The low turnout has been attributed to the Panama Papers scandal which erupted when 11.5 million documents belonging to Mossack Fonseca, a Panama-based law firm, were leaked earlier this year.”

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Photo: The Neo-panamax cargo ship Cosco Shipping Panama makes passage through the new locks in the expanded Panama Canal on June 26. The €7 billion expansion project nearly triples the size of ships that can traverse the 77km waterway, which links the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and has been in operation since 1914.