File - Panama Canal employees work in a dry chamber of the Miraflores locks during its periodical maintenance at the Panama Canal in Panama City August 29, 2014. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
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Vast projects to expand the Suez and Panama canals are being talked up as the biggest upheaval for decades in global maritime traffic, but experts say they could be outflanked by a trade shift toward Asia.In recent years, freight traffic traveling from Asia to the east coast of the United States has increasingly circumvented the Panama Canal and its restrictions on ship size in favor of the Suez route open to most big vessels.To attract business back, the board of the Panama Canal began work in 2007 to widen the channel to permit the passage of ships carrying a much greater volume of containers.The broader channel would allow for vessels carrying 12,000 TEU containers (TEU, or "20-foot equivalent unit," is the standard unit of measurement for containers) – a big increase from the current capacity of 5,000 TEU.Leszczynski believes that there is also no economic justification for the construction of a competitor to the Panama Canal in Nicaragua.
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