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Panama Canal: A Suffering Trade Route

A severe drought is affecting the Panama Canal, forcing container vessels to lighten their loads and pay higher fees. With increases in shipping costs expected this summer, the largest vessels will have to reduce their drafts — how low they sit in the water — by carrying less or cutting the weight of their cargoes. While some might decide to bypass the canal, delays are expected to steadily increase with the drought. 


Drought Implications: Delays and Higher Costs

The canal, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, has been experiencing water supply shortages, a situation projected to worsen as the drought continues. This could lead to delays and higher costs for goods shipped through the canal, which typically sees 5% of annual global maritime trade.


Drought and Draft Restrictions

Starting late May, Neo-Panamax vessels, the largest ships transiting the waterway, will see draft restrictions of up to 40% as the draught reaches 44 feet, down from 50. While it may seem minor, this change means ships must transit with 40% less weight than previously allowed, effectively increasing queuing times for vessels waiting to transit.


During these challenging times, having a seasoned logistics partner like Edward J. Zarach & Associates can be a game changer. Our team of experts are adept at navigating the fluid dynamics of global shipping, helping to offset potential delays and cost increases brought about by the Panama Canal’s draft restrictions.


Forward-Thinking Solutions for Future Challenges

The drought conditions in Panama underscores the importance of strategic planning and adaptable logistics. Zarach is committed to staying ahead of these changes, providing tailored, responsive solutions to ensure your supply chain remains as efficient and undisturbed as possible during these turbulent times. If you want to ensure you’re prepared for the coming challenges, contact your Zarach representative today.