June 27th, 2016 | By: Jana Kasperkevic
Thousands of people, many waving paper fans to fend off the humidity and heat, gathered at Cocolí locks outside Panama City on Sunday to watch a colossal container ship bearing 9,472 containers become the first vessel to officially pass through the newly expanded Panama canal and, hopefully, usher in a new era of trading prosperity for the Central American country.
The opening of the expansion of the 102-year-old landmark after a controversial and delayed $5.25bn refit comes at a difficult moment for the shipping industry. International trade has slowed as China’s economic growth has stalled. In Egypt the Suez canal – Panama’s main rival – recently lowered tariffs in an attempt to keep its traffic.
But there was little sign of worry as the 158ft-wide (48.2 meters) and 984ft-long (300 meters) Cosco Shipping Panama, approached the Panamanian isthmus on Sunday.
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