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Extra canal capacity for Panama - finally

Monday, June 27, 2016 - 01:20

Panama opens the long-delayed $5.4 billion expansion of its shipping canal amid cheering crowds. But, as Grace Pascoe reports, it's not all plain sailing.

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Nine years and 5.4 billion dollars later... The newly-enlarged Panama Canal is now open for business. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) PANAMA PRESIDENT, JUAN CARLOS VARELA, SAYING: "This day marks a historic moment for Panama, for our hemisphere and the world, in many ways the world has never been more connected." The 50 mile long waterway now allows new, wider container ships to pass, Encompassing 98 percent of the world's vessels, including this giant Chinese one. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) PANAMANIAN, LILIAN DE TOALA, SAYING: "We hope to have a bigger share of the market, and attract ships that we couldn't accommodate before." But it isn't all plain sailing. Only a dozen heads of state attended the opening ceremony - the rest of the 70 invited stayed away, reportedly because of the Panama Papers scandal. The expansion was also plagued by delays and billions of extra costs. Panama hopes the upgrade will help it claw back market share from rivals Suez and land routes. 170 ships have signed up to use the canal over the next three months And the country hopes to pull in 2.1 billion more dollars annually by 2021.

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Extra canal capacity for Panama - finally

Monday, June 27, 2016 - 01:20