Expanded Panama Canal opens with Chinese ship making first passage

COSCO Shipping Panama, a vessel belonging to China COSCO Shipping Corporation, sails down the expanded Panama Canal in the morning of June 26, becoming the first ship to mark its official opening.

(Soundbite) Jorge Luis Quijano, Administrator of Panama Canal Authority “The Panama Canal 102 years ago hit two oceans. Now we connect the present and the future. It is an honor to announce what we did together: expanded the canal. Thank you.”

The Chinese container vessel opens a chapter in the global shipping history by marking the conclusion of the nine-year expansion project of the canal.

(Soundbite) Xu Lirong, Chairman of China COSCO Shipping Corporation
“The new set of locks shortens the traffic time and downsizes the cost. It is very competitive. I believe it will boost China’s overseas trade.”

The expansion of the Panama Canal will bring the traffic through the inter-oceanic passage to a new level, which already handles around 6 percent of global trade transportation.

(Soundbite) Juan Carlos Varela, President of Panama
“I would ask all the present to look up to the only flag that must always sway over this channel, which is the flag of Panama. With pride, God bless Columbus! May God bless the people of Panama! Thank you very much.”

With the expansion of the canal’s width and depth, the traffic volume will get tripled, further boosting the 1 billion U.S. dollars that the Panamanian government collects each year from its operation.

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