Sharp Decline in Vehicle Carrier Transits

As per the 2009 Annual Report of The Panama Canal Authority (ACP), vehicle carrier segment registered a double digit fall in important traffic indicators in the fiscal year 2009 spanning from Oct 1, 2008 to Sep 30, 2009. Vehicle carrier transits plummeted by 42.6% (469), tonnage by 36.9% (25.1 million) and toll revenue by 28.8% (B/.87.2) in 2009 compared to the last fiscal year. Substantial drop in demand and subsequent fall in car sales, poor consumer confidence and weak credit badly affected the auto industry during 2009 recession. Vehicle shipment volumes of the shipping companies, thus, fell.

The container segment registered a drop of 5% each in transits and PC/UMS (Panama Canal / Universal Metric System) in 2009 over the previous fiscal year. Reduction in finished good consumption and demand, economic downturn and cost control measures by shipping companies are ascribed to the drop.

Despite recession in Eurozone, the U.K., the U.S. and Japan, total trade flow via the Canal did not fall substantially in the fiscal year 2009. The total Canal transits decreased from 14,721 in fiscal year 2007 to 14,702 in 2008 to 14, 342 in 2009. Vessel tonnage recorded a fall of 3.4% to 299.1 millions of PC/UMS in the fiscal 2009 from 309.6 millions of PC/UMS in the last fiscal year. PANAMAX vessel transits fell by 1.2% in 2009 due to decline in vehicle carrier and container transits.

ACP is responsible for the Canal administration, operations, improvements, modernization and maintenance.

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