Vice President Biden: Expand our ports |


Vice President Biden: Expand our ports |

In 1956, the world’s first container ship, the Ideal X, sailed from New York harbor to the Port of Houston. Instead of sacks and crates stuffed in a musty hull, the ship carried 58 neatly packed containers on its deck.

Shipping costs fell drastically and global commerce changed forever. A world of opportunity — and competition — had arrived.

But American manufacturers were up to the challenge, thanks in part to the commitment of federal, state and local governments to build and maintain a world-class infrastructure that helped move their products and turn profits.

Global commerce is transforming again. Today’s version of the Ideal X looks like a floating city, with containers stacked so high they tower above the waves like skyscrapers. New ships with double or even triple the capacity of their predecessors carry American-made cars, machine parts and food products through the Suez Canal and other parts of the world. But these ships are too big to fit through the Panama Canal — for now.

In two years, that barrier will disappear, opening up a world — quite literally — of opportunity for American manufacturers. Less than a mile from the original canal, the Panamanian government is building a new gateway between the Atlantic and the Pacific for these enormous ships.

This week, I traveled to Panama to check out the progress. Joining me were Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz of Florida and the mayors of Baltimore and Philadelphia.

We watched with Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli as workers built giant concrete walls, and cranes and trucks excavated dirt from a massive pit. When this wider, deeper and longer passageway opens in late 2015, the amount of cargo that passes through the combined lanes of the Panama Canal will more than double.

Keep in mind: More than two thirds of the trips through the Panama Canal either begin or end in the United States. That means when the new locks open, we have the potential to expand exports at a considerably lower cost and higher volume.

A bigger canal will allow the world’s largest ships to connect from the eastern half of the Western Hemisphere to the growing markets Asia. Many of our East Coast and Gulf of Mexico ports — and the rail lines, canals and highways that feed them — will see a major spike in traffic. Do we have the will to build for this future and give American manufacturers the best opportunity to succeed?

via Vice President Biden: Expand our ports |

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