The Malta flagged cargo ship named Baroque, a post-Panamax vessel, navigates the Agua Clara locks during a test of the newly expanded Panama Canal in Agua Clara, Panama, Friday, June 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
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Panama is preparing to officially open its canal this weekend to far bigger cargo ships after nearly a decade of expansion work aimed at boosting transit revenues and global trade.President Juan Carlos Varela will unveil the new locks and third shipping lane built into the 102-year-old canal.The Neopanamax vessels are much bigger than the Panamax-class ships that previously were the largest able to pass through the 80-kilometer (50-mile) long canal.For Panama, the unveiling of the broader canal is a moment of pride and of opportunity.Annual cargo volumes should double over the next decade, leading Panama to hope to triple the $1 billion in shipping fees it receives each year.The ships carrying the gas were too big to use the old canal.
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