Chinese mega-ship becomes first to traverse upgraded Panama Canal

CCTV News

Chinese mega-ship is first to traverse newly upgraded canal

The COSCO became the first vessel ever to pass through the expanded Panama Canal on Sunday, completing the 80-kilometer (49 mile) journey.

CCTV America’s Roee Ruttenberg reported.

Chinese mega-ship becomes first to traverse upgraded Panama canal

Chinese mega-ship becomes first to traverse upgraded Panama canal

The COSCO becoming the first vessel ever to pass through the expanded Panama Canal on Sunday, completed the 80-kilometer journey.

Nearly 300-meters (984 foot) in length, the Chinese ship arrived at the new Cocoli locks, carrying nearly 10,000 containers an impossible feat in the older, smaller passageway.

“To us, Panamanians, the Canal is way more than just an engineering and technology masterpiece. It symbolizes what Panama’s isthmus represents for the international community: a meeting point between East and West, between South and North,” Juan Carlos Varela, President of Panama said.

Planning for this trip started more than a decade ago, after Panama gained full control of the canal from the U.S., which built the original locks and ran them for 85 years.

The $5 billion project was Panamanian led, and included Spanish and Italian consortiums.

The new locks are now closed, but the expanded canal is now open for business. The largest ships can expect to pay up to one million dollars to pass. As for the maiden vessel we just saw, it’s expected to reach the port of Shanghai in August.


Panama’s economy flourishes while neighbors lag behind

It’s been 25 years since Panama regained access to funding from the IMF, after defaulting on loans. Now, the international lender said Panama has one of the region’s most flourishing economies.

CCTV America’s Roee Ruttenberg reports.

Panama\'s economy flourishes while neighbors lag behind

Panama\'s economy flourishes while neighbors lag behind

The COSCO became the first vessel ever to pass through the expanded Panama Canal on Sunday, completing the 80-kilometer (49 mile) journey.

Panama is one of Latin America’s smallest countries. But it’s 4 million people continue to punch well above their weight.
It’s hard to ignore the American influence : the country still uses the U.S. dollar, while nearly 40 percent of Panama’s GDP comes from activity related to the American-built Panama Canal.

“That area of the country was forbidden for Panamanians. And that really was a barrier for Panama to exploit our geographical position and advantage. Therefore Panama had to go through a process of self-discovery – thinking outside the box,” Felipe Chapman, Economist of INDESA said.

“750 million people for Latin America. So what it means is that the compound growth of population in the region is close to 20%,” Oscar Bazan, Panama Canal Authority said. “So consumption will be very steady, and will be reflecting a marginal growth. Just of consumption. It doesn’t have anything to do with how the trade behaves.”

Oscar Bazan said the canal would need to meet that demand.

For all its success, Panama is still a country of contrasts. It has more than 6 percent annual growth, while there were visibly lingering effects of poverty

The government has made combating poverty a national priority, and it intends to use its new wealth to do so.


Dulcidio De La Guardia on Panama’s economy

Over the years, Panama’s economy has largely benefited from billions of dollars in infrastructure spending.

CCTV America’s Roee Ruttenberg interviewed the country’s Economy and Finance Minister, Dulcidio De La Guardia.