Panama Canal to Tap into Potential of Rising Brazilian Grain Shipments

The Panama Canal Authority has set sights on attracting more grain shipments to the canal traveling from northern Brazil to ports in the Pacific Ocean.

To that end, the canal authority signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Association of Soybean and Corn Producers of Mato Grosso (Aprosoja) in Cuiabá, Brazil with the aim of launching joint marketing and promotional activities.

Aprosoja is a non-profit organization comprised of producers linked to the soybean and corn crops in Mato Grosso, Brazil who work to create initiatives to drive sustainable growth in the sector.

The canal authority’s aim is to promote the use of the Panamax locks for soy and corn grain transits originating in northern Brazil and traveling to markets in Asia. These shipments typically transit on Panamax vessels given the similarity between the drafts in the Amazon River ports and the Panamax locks.

“The increased capacity afforded to us by the Expanded Canal has had a far-reaching positive impact across segments and allows us to access new markets, which could include freight from ports such as those in northern Brazil,” canal’s Administrator Jorge Luis Quijano said.

“As the Panama Canal continues finding new and innovative ways to address the ever-changing needs of the global maritime community and international trade flows, this agreement with the Mato Grosso Association of Soybean and Corn Producers further strengthens the common goal of promoting regional trade growth.”

The MOU’s signing comes at a time when exporters of grains from Brazil are enjoying considerable increases in shipment volumes from the year before. Dry bulk, including grains, accounted for roughly 24 percent of the waterway’s total transits during its 2017 fiscal year. Since the beginning of its 2018 fiscal year on October 1 of last year, 21.6 percent of Panamax and 7.9 percent of Neopanamax transits have consisted of dry bulk, the authority said.

The Panama Canal has signed MOUs with 36 commercial associations, ports and maritime organizations, the majority of which are in the United States. This agreement with a Brazilian organization is the first MOU between the Panama Canal and a Latin American country.

Image Courtesy: Panama Canal Authority