Weekly Chart: Panama Canal Trade before and after the Expansion

By Elizabeth Gonzalez

How will the $5.3 billion expansion affect trade through the world’s largest shipping canal?

One of the seven wonders of the modern world got a revamp. The Panama Canal—the largest canal in the world—added a third lane and doubled capacity for container traffic. The $5.3 billion expansion project started in 2007 and will be inaugurated on June 26. The expansion took nearly as long to complete as the decade it took to build the original canal, which opened in 1914.

Though the expansion comes at a time of stagnating global trade, the huge project gives Asia easier access to the Atlantic, reducing trips to the U.S. East Coast by five to 10 days. The Panamanian government is also counting on a 16 to 17 percent increase in revenue, as well as higher traffic in freights of liquefied natural gas carried on ships that would have been too large to traverse the original canal.