In Is it sunset for state’s seaports? (Sacramento Bee, Jan. 29, 2012) Jock O’Connell provides a great evaluation of the potential impact of the expansion of the Panama Canal due to be completed at the end of 2014.
California has long enjoyed considerable economic benefits from its role as the nation’s principle gateway for trade with Asia and the Pacific Rim. The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are the 1st and 2nd busiest ports in the nation (measured by TEUs) and the port of Oakland ranks 6th. The direct and indirect economic benefits of these centers are substantial and have risen significantly mainly from the growth of leading emerging economies, such as China, India, and South Korea (see chart below).
Some highlights from the article,
- Some fear that the expansion could result in “a massive diversion of transpacific shipping from California’s maritime gateways to seaports along the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Seaboard”
- According to LAEDC, Southern California ports support 500,000 trade-related regional jobs, and and the Port of Oakland estimates that it supports 73,000 jobs in Northern California.
- The impacts, though, won’t be one-sided. In addition to lost cargo “California ports could expect to benefit from an increase in the volume of goods arriving by sea from Europe, Africa and South America” and “long-term forecasts anticipate a steady increase in seaborne trade between North America and Asia”
- “infrastructure enhancements … would help safeguard the future of California’s seaports”