The Port of Los Angeles is the busiest container port in the United States and is hoping it’s going to stay that way after the Panama Canal expansion opens in 2015. It currently ranks in the top 20 in the world for container ports by volume but will be under some increasing competition once the giant new container ships are able to pass through the Panama Canal’s new bigger third lock and thereby gaining greater access to major ports on the east coast of the country.
To ensure they are ready to compete effectively, the port has made huge investments and just recently completed a $370 million channel deepening project that was essential in order to handle even the most gigantic of the new container vessels. Antonio Villaraigosa, Mayor of Los Angeles stated, “This project was important to us because we understand that in order to compete with ports in the United States and around the world, we’ve got to make investments.” He continued, “And we’ve made US$1.3 billion in investments and some 20,000 jobs to make sure we’re competitive.”
While the port of Los Angeles does it’s best to upgrade to more state-of-the-art facilities, ports on the east coast are also doing their best to dredge their waterways and modernize their ports but have been facing some difficult financial and environmental challenges in order to do so. Ports in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina all recognize the golden economic opportunities once the Panama Canal expansion is complete, but their progress to be able to capitalize on it has been slowed somewhat due to a lack of Federal investment dollars to date. These eastern regions still remain hopeful nonetheless and continue to prepare with the necessary infrastructure improvements needed to compete effectively in the future.
Back on the west coast in Los Angeles, it appears their port is ready now to handle whatever size ship comes their way. They knew what they had to do as far back as 10 years ago when the dredging to deepen the channel first began. The region’s officials certainly made the right investment in their future when they needed to in the past and it paid off over the years by creating thousands of jobs that have contributed tens of millions of dollars into the local economy. Investing is all about enjoying a great investing experience and it appears as though the Port of Los Angeles’s investments will pay off well into the future, as they do their best to remain the country’s busiest container port.
Up until recently, the West coast has been the main beneficiary of the bigger cargo ships from Asia. Now with the expansion of the Panama Canal allowing for larger vessels to pass through, it creates enormous opportunities for ports on the East coast of the United States, allowing them to finally be able to effectively compete with the West coast ports; for more business from the eastern parts of the world. One eastern region in particular, Florida, is quite confident it will be ready to compete, when the time comes.
“If I were running a port on the West Coast, I would be on the alert, because the expansion of the canal is going to benefit the Port of Miami and other ports on this coast.”- Port of Miami sub-director.
The Port of Miami, calling itself the Bridge to the Americas, has been busy the last few years getting prepared to capitalize on the impending global trade opportunities. In doing so, the port has invested more than $2 billion modernizing and upgrading their shipping facilities, to be ready when the Panama Canal expansion is complete. These infrastructure investments have spawned thousands of jobs for the region and helped stimulate Florida’s economy in the process. It is estimated that the port will double it’s capacity in the next five to ten years and will support up to 30,000 jobs, throughout the state.
While it may be too early to accurately predict the changes in global trade routes, some of the major shipping companies have already started to establish agreements with accessible global ports, as the new shipping routes begins to take shape. Port and State officials have been determined to become a port destination of choice for industry leaders when the time comes, and it appears as though the Port of Miami will be ready to compete, when the Panama Canal expansion is finished in 2015.
The State of Florida has been lobbying the United States Federal Government for years to free up the $7 billion Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund. Ports in the state are hoping to get reimbursed for some of the necessary infrastructure investments already made and to help pay for many more that are needed. Congress has been making progress toward approval of a Water Resources Development Act that would help cover much-needed dredging projects around the state.
In the recent State of the Union speech, President Obama made reference to the building of the nation’s port infrastructures as a means to create jobs and encourage more public-private partnerships. In 2011, $82.7 billion in waterborne international trade passed through Florida’s ports sustaining 550,000 jobs and contributing $1.7 billion to state and federal revenues. It is no wonder state officials feel a sense of urgency to prepare their ports for the opening of the Panama Canal Expansion in 2015. If they are not able to handle the giant post-panamax ships in the near future, then they will just sail right on by. They simply won’t be able to compete with the ports that are capable.
What is happening in Florida is similar to other regions in the country that are looking to upgrade and modernize their ports to be able to compete efficiently and effectively in the future global economy. There have been trillions of dollars spent by over 140 countries in the world creating new port infrastructures specifically to handle the giant shipping container ships. Right now the United States is losing their competitive edge in the market as they seriously lag behind many other parts of the world, many who are ready now and others that will be ready in 2015.