Changing trade patterns

The new Panama Canal locks reshape world shipping – accommodating ships which can take almost three times the load of current vessels. It promises to lower the costs of North-South trade in agricultural products, oil and liquefied natural gas.

Maersk Panama

Latin America Trade Reports

Our trade reports provide an overview of trade in Latin America. The reports are available both in English and Spanish.

As one of the oldest customers of the Panama Canal, the Maersk Group welcomes the expansion of the Panama Canal. It will provide good economy of scale and limit bottlenecks.

Over the past decade, Maersk has made significant efforts in order to support Latin American trade flows in and around Panama. In January 2014 the company announced the formation of a regional container shipping company, SeaLand, to focus on Intra American trades. The new U.S. based shipping company – a revival of the iconic SeaLand name – aims to facilitate the rapid growth in regional trading in Latin America.

SeaLand utilises the SAMMAX vessels, which Maersk designed specifically for trade off the east coast of Latin America. The larger carrying capacity and improved efficiency of the SAMMAX vessels are critical to lowering transport costs, which traditionally is one of the major barriers to economic development and in growth countries.

“With SeaLand we have established a dedicated carrier for the region to serve the needs of intra-America customers. We have the local specialists that know the markets and we have flexibility and nimbleness to respond quickly to changing market conditions,” says Craig Mygatt, CEO of SeaLand, which is headquartered in Miramar, Florida and has offices in 29 countries across Latin America and the Caribbean.

Story Push

Channeling trade in Panama

As the gateway for more than 12,000 ships, carrying roughly five per cent of all world sea trade, the canal is one of Panama’s most important assets.

History Push

A game changer for modern trade

Before the construction of the Panama Canal in 1914, cargo ships had to take the treacherous path around Cape Horn, the southern tip of South America, adding thousands of miles and considerable cost to their journey.


As a long-time customer, Maersk Line welcomes the expansion of the Panama Canal. We look forward to seeing our larger vessels pass through the new locks. It is a very positive development for trade, Panama and the region, and of course shipping lines that transit this important corridor every day.

Soren Toft


Bigger, better Panama Canal opens for business

Heads of state, regional business and community leaders gathered at the Panama Canal to celebrate the completion of the $5 billion expansion project that will improve the competitiveness of one of the world’s two most important short-cuts for trade.

Maersk Line has also been busy expanding its services in the region. Over the last 12 to 15 months, Maersk Line has introduced four new weekly transits through the Panama Canal and is expecting more than 400 transits this year with canal fees expected to exceed 100 million USD.

“The expansion provides us more options to a number of our services, most notably our Asia to South America and Asia to US East Coast routes,” says Anders Boenaes, Head of Network, Maersk Line.

From the West Coast of Latin America to Europe and the US East Coast, Maersk Line moves mainly perishables such as bananas, avocados and pineapples and sees many opportunities to grow this fresh export sector. Maersk Line invested in 30,000 new reefer containers in 2015, sustaining a reefer container fleet of 262,000. From Asia to the US East Coast, the strong US Dollar also offers potential to grow other exports, particularly car parts and electronics.

It is likely that Maersk Line will make increased use of the expanded Panama Canal and adjust one or more Maersk Line services with larger vessels to begin sailing through its new locks. On average, Maersk Line has seven transits per week.

Maersk Line would see the benefits of the Panama Canal Authority reviewing its current tariffs aiming to be more competitive, particularly now that the Suez Canal has offered large discounts for Asia-North America east coast carriers.