One year later and after seven years of work, the expansion of the Panama Canal has been completed, until now responsible for 3% of world trade, and on 10/06/2016 the first commercial ship “<fuerte>La Baroque</fuerte>” crossed the canal.
Among the companies in the Grupo Unidos por el Canal consortium that have done the work, we also find a little “made in Italy”:
Salini Impregilo, not only operational leader of the project and that almost three years ago replaced the Spanish Sacyr (both with a 48% participation in the consortium), unblocking the work to complete it:
Cimolai, producer of the floodgates of thousands of tons;
the Trevi Group, which participated in the drilling;
Mapei and Sc Sembenelli Consulting;
the control software developed by the Italian company Selex;
the work force, almost all of which is Panamanian.
The first ship, the 10/06/2016, has already entered the new Panama Canal; La Baroque, a bulk carrier of 64 thousand tons, 255 meters long and 43 meters wide, has arrived in Panama, on the Atlantic side, after having touched the ports of Shanghai, Gibraltar and Baltimore in the United States.
The ship has begun navigation tests and training of Canal operators in the Atlantic sector locks before the official inauguration scheduled for June 26. 150 nations and 1,700 port authorities are involved in commercial waterway traffic. The Government of Panama, with the acquisition of autonomous control of the canal in 1999, expects to be able to double the flow of the canal, which will go from 330 million tons annually to 600 million tons. Today, for Panamanians, the new canal is a source of pride, since the previous one was built by the United States and was considered a symbol of twentieth-century American colonialism.
June 26, 2016 will be a date that will have a historic scope to disrupt the scenarios of a global geopolitics; representatives of the governments of Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Paraguay, Portugal and Spain will be present at the inauguration and expect other presences besides President Obama and the new president of Taiwan, which will create many political problems.
The State of Panama is one of the few countries that has recognized Taiwan’s state sovereignty and this could cause resentment to China, which has always been Taiwan’s rival. China will have to choose between political and economic interests, as it is the second country in the world to use the canal crossing and is undoubtedly a key country for Panama.
In fact, the first ship to cross the new canal for the inauguration will be a Chinese ship from the Cosco shipping company; and China remains the leader among financiers for the construction of a new canal, alternative to Panama’s, in Nicaragua, in order to control strategic economic routes, even in case of tension with the United States.