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Erie Inland Port & the Panama Canal Expansion

Posted on March 26, 2013

Photo of a large barge in the panama canal

There is a television commercial for a large mutual fund company in which seemingly remote events influence unrelated outcomes around the world. The expansion of the Panama Canal may, at first, seem to be too remote as to impact the Erie Inland Port project, but the effects of the Canal expansion will have global implications.

Lawyers Associated Worldwide (LAW) conducted its 2013 Americas Regional Meeting in Panama City, Panama. Alberto Aleman Zubieta, the CEO of the Panama Canal Authority from 1996 to 2012 offered his insight as to the world-wide implications of the Canal expansion. The $5.25 billion project will more than double the capacity of the existing Canal. The largest vessels that can currently pass through the Panama Canal are referred to as “Panamax” vessels. However, newer and larger, post-Panamax ships have approximately 37% greater capacity and are too large for the current Canal. To put the expansion into perspective, the locks of the expanded Canal will accept vessels larger than the Empire State Building.

The target date for completion of the expanded Panama Canal is August 15, 2014 (the 100th anniversary of the first official transit through the Canal), however the undertaking is so massive that completion will likely be delayed for approximately 6-9 months. For northwestern Pennsylvania and northeastern Ohio, the Canal’s acceptance of post-Panamax container ships means expanded trade opportunities with Asia and eastern South America. This expansion will greatly enhance the export of liquefied natural gas, coal and commodities and manufactured goods from the mid-Atlantic, Gulf and east coast states.

Erie Inland Port is intended to be a major logistics hub located in western Erie County, Pennsylvania. This area’s network of rail, highway and Lake Erie ports in Erie, PA and Ashtabula, Ohio should be well positioned to participate in moving the additional cargo passing through the expanded Canal to and from the more than 85 million people located within a 500-mile radius and approximately half the population of the United States within 600 miles of Erie, PA. As east coast and Gulf ports improve to accommodate post-Panamax vessel traffic and increased trade opportunities, the impact of the Panama Canal expansion on the Erie Inland Port does not seem so remote.

Lawyers Associated Worldwide is a global association of nearly 100 independent law firms located in more than 180 major commercial centers throughout the world. Membership in LAW allows the Knox Firm to service the legal needs of clients that are expanding their operations and relationships into new domestic and foreign markets because of the increasing globalization of the business world.

David M.Mosier

David M. Mosier

David M. Mosier's practice includes business and tax transactions, retirement benefits, designing and drafting of employee pension and welfare benefit plans, and more.

dmosier@kmgslaw.com • 814-923-4878

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