Panama Canal expansion attracts investors

The project, which is due to be completed in 2015, will construct a third lane of traffic allowing the passage of Post-Panamax vessels, doubling the Canal’s capacity and having an important impact in world maritime trade.

But the improved infrastructure is also boosting the area’s investment prospects, with national newspaper La Prensa finding 39 multinationals out of 165 are now based in the Panama Pacifico mixed-use development alone.

UN buildings are on the way to the country’s suburb of Clayton, where international buyers are now snapping up homes, reports the Financial Times .

“Having previously lived in Casco Viejo, Balboa Avenue and the Pacific Beach areas, I believe this is one of the nicer projects and locations for a family,” one English fund manager who first moved to Panama in 2005, told the paper.

The project is now 62 per cent complete, which was marked today by a milestone, as the first four gates for the new locks arrived from Italy.

“This is an exciting moment for the Panama Canal – the arrival of the new gates marks a great progress for this engineering project,” Panama Canal Administrator Jorge L. Quijano said. “With the Expansion, we will further reinforce our position as the maritime and logistics hub of the Americas.”

The new locks of the expanded Panama Canal have a total of 16 rolling gates (eight for each new lock complex). The gates are being shipped four at a time from Italy. They will be unloaded onto a temporary dock until ready for installation. Unlike the current Canal, which uses miter gates, the expanded Canal will have steel rolling gates.

Alongside the improved transport facilities for trade and residents, the country has also seen its tourist industry develop. In 1997, Panama had 1,400 hotel rooms to its name. Now, that has surged to more than 15,000, according to figures from STR Global. 2.1 million tourists visited the country last year and that number is already expected to grow by 10 per cent this year, boosted by a growing number of cruise ships.