London, 03.07.15 – Jorge Quijano, CEO, Panama Canal Authority, has been announced as a keynote speaker at the 15th edition of TOC Americas, the annual forum for maritime container trade, transport and port professionals doing business in North and Latin America. TOC Americas returns to Panama this October 13-15 at a watershed moment, as the $5.2 billion project to widen the Panama Canal nears completion. From next April, container vessels of up to 13,000TEU will be able to navigate the Canal, more than doubling the current 5,000TEU limit.
The opening up of this key international shipping lane to bigger vessels is expected to drive significant change in international and regional maritime trade dynamics. The expansion comes at a time of a rapid global escalation in container ship sizes, with both North and Latin America facing a wave of big ships, both purpose-designed and as a result of cascading.
Latin America has seen some of the fastest growth in ship size in recent times and features heavily in the global list of ‘traditional ports’ on secondary trade lanes that are now routinely handling 8-10,000TEU vessels and bigger. Average ship size on the Asia-East Coast South America container trade, for instance, has grown 37% in the last two years alone, with 21% increase on Europe-ECSA, according to latest analysis presented by Drewry Maritime Research at the recent TOC Europe Container Supply Chain conference.
In North America, average ship size on the Transpacific and Asia-USEC via Suez routes are up 15% in the last two years, with some commentators now warning that US ports needs to start preparing for 18,000TEU ships sooner than anyone might have expected. Once the expanded Panama Canal opens, many of the new 10,000-13,000 TEU ships now on order for delivery in the next 2 years are expected to find their way into Asia-USEC service via Panama, plus cascaded vessels.
The combined impact of expanded Panama and Suez Canals and the global trend toward big ships and shipping alliances will be a major focus of discussion at this years’ TOC Americas Container Supply Chain conference, covering North American, Latin American and Caribbean perspectives. Speakers are already confirmed from Port of Houston, Georgia Ports Authority, COSCO Container Lines, Mediterranean Shipping Company, Ports America, PSA, TC Mariel Cuba and Suez Canal Authority, among others.
In the Caribbean context, the recent decision by French shipping giant CMA CGM to invest in a new regional hub in Kingston, Jamaica, plus the impact of thawing US-Cuba relations, are expected to be among the issues discussed by executives including Grantley Stephenson, President, Caribbean Shipping Association, another of this year’s keynote speakers.
While labor disputes were the immediate catalyst for this year’s US West Coast gridlock, the underlying causes – bigger vessels and cargo peaks leading to congestion at berth and gate – are region-wide, with the pain being felt by cargo owners, ports and terminals, trucking company and carriers themselves. How to respond to the big ship and alliance challenge will be a second major focus this year, looking at what changes are needed to current port and terminal working practices and stakeholder relations, and what new technologies can bring to the party.
Hosted by Panama Canal Authority, this year’s event includes Container Supply Chain and TECH TOC conferences, site visits to the Panama Canal expansion site, networking receptions and exhibition of port services, equipment and technology.
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About TOC Worldwide
For 40 years, TOC Worldwide has provided the market-leading conference and exhibition forums for the global port and terminal industries and their customers. With a change of name to TOC Container Supply Chain, the TOC event portfolio is now evolving fast to attract a wider audience of container supply chain professionals.
Taking place each year in the world’s four key shipping hubs – Europe, Middle East, Americas and Asia – each TOC is now a complete container supply chain event for its region, bringing together cargo owners, logistics providers, carriers, ports, terminals and other key members of the container supply chain to learn, debate, network and foster new business solutions.
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