Shipping trade conference pulls in to IOP

File Photo (WCIV)

ISLE OF PALMS, S.C. (AP) -- Changes in world shipping brought about by larger container ships and the widening of the Panama Canal are on the agenda of a trade conference on the South Carolina coast.

The $5 billion expansion of the Panama Canal will be finished in 2015 but a top official of the Canal Authority tells South Carolina business and maritime leaders that projections on what it will mean for world shipping are changing all the time.

Rodolfo Sabonge (Sah-BONG-ee) told the South Carolina International Trade Conference on Tuesday that when the project was designed, the locks were expected to be able to handle the largest ships.

But Sabonge says now that when the enlarged canal opens, about nine percent of the world's container fleet will already be in larger ships unable to use the canal.

He says most projections for shipping growth during the past three or four years have been downgraded. He says that has brought more consolidation in shipping.

The South Carolina International Trade Conference is celebrating its 40th anniversary with a meeting on the Isle of Palms on Tuesday. The conference brings together maritime interests and business leaders from across the state.

This year, the conference brings together representatives of some of the world's largest shipping lines and their customers to discuss changes in international shipping.

The panels on Tuesday include representatives of the Maersk and CMA-CGM shipping lines as well as executives who handle imports for Family Dollar and Lowes.

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