CMA CGM’s Caribbean Hub in Jamaica as Panama Canal Opens

French container shipping major CMA CGM has decided to made Jamaica its strategic Caribbean hub following the opening of the Expanded Panama Canal.

The Kingston, Jamaica hub will be a strategic center for transshipment connecting the US East Coast, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbeans and Northern Brazil, according to the company, as 90% of volumes transshipped are expected to reach the sub region.

The announcement comes on the back of the 30-year Kingston container terminal concession deal which the company secured in early April 2016.

CMA CGM plans to bolster the terminal’s annual capacity up to 3.6 million TEU containers with the addition of 14 gantry cranes and 60 port riders as part of its efforts to turn Kingston into one of the Caribbean top five ports.

The terminal encompasses a total 2,400 meters of wharf, a 80 ha surface and 15.5 meters draught.

“A widened canal will bring new opportunities for world trade. CMA CGM has foreseen these changes and made Kingston a strategic base: modernization works will allow the group to operate all larger vessels sailing in the area, and make Jamaica a transshipment hub for the whole sub region,” Luc Portier, CMA CGM Director of Studies, Projects and Development, said.

Revolutionizing maritime transportation, the Panama Canal reduced the sailing distance between New York and San Francisco by more than 11,000 kilometers, compared to sailing around Cape Horn.

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Furthermore, the canal decreased the distance between Shanghai and New York on the Manhattan Bridge CMA CGM Service by 11,000 kilometers, and cuts the MGE CMA CGM Service between Malta and Guayaquil by 8,700 kilometers, compared to a route via Cape Horn.

This 77 kilometer long canal is now a strategic route for global trade: 5% of all traffic passes through the canal (8% for the Suez Canal), representing 200 million tons of goods a year on board more than 15,000 vessels.

In 2015, CMA CGM was the canal’s 2nd client for containerized transport, while today eight of the company’s services sail through the canal representing one vessel a day.

“Reflecting on new possibilities, maritime companies can rethink their routes, including that from Asia to the US East Coast. For example, the journey between New York and Hong Kong, the choice to sail by Panama or Suez Canal is subtle: there is just one day difference,” CMA CGM said.

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