LJMU has been welcomed in Panama as the only University to represent the UK at the official opening of the newly expanded Panama Ship Canal.
It has taken almost 10 years to complete, but the extension to the world-famous waterway was finally inaugurated at a ceremony recently and LJMU was in attendance. A Liverpool delegation including Eddie Blanco-Davis, from LJMU’s Faculty of Engineering and Technology flew to Panama at the behest of the UK embassy in Panama to attend the official launch of the £3.9bn project.
Mark Basnett from Liverpool City Region LEP, Bernard Molloy chair of LEP Superport, Mark Whitworth (CEO) and Gary Hodgson (COO) of Peel Ports Group along with Cllr Nick Small also attended the opening.
The expansion nearly triples the capacity of the original waterway, which was built in 1914 and described by Panama’s president Juan Carlos Varela as “..the route that unites the world.” The first ship to pass was a huge Chinese container vessel, watched on by thousands of Panamanians, entering the newly expanded locks and establishing it as the logistics hub for Latin America.
With many billions being invested in the Liverpool City Region Superport to make it a global freight and logistics hub for the UK and Ireland, mirroring the maritime ambitions to those of Panama, the visit enabled LJMU to create useful connections with institutions in Panama, build relationships to develop knowledge transfer and stimulate business with the Latin American market.
With Peel Ports at an advanced stage with the phased opening of its new £300 million container terminal, Liverpool2, the team from Peel Ports were able to meet with Panama Canal Administrator Jorge L.Quijano to discuss the Port of Liverpool’s recent developments and promoting its trade connectivity with The Americas, including North, Central and South.
Eddie Blanco said of the trip: “It was a beneficial visit as I was able to meet with Panamanian political and business leaders as part of the event, figures from the Panama Canal Authority, Panama Ports Company and a number of large importers and exporters from the region. I was able to discuss possible knowledge transfer and exchange between LJMU and make plans to strengthen our commitment to maritime operations, given the similarities between Liverpool’s plans and those in Panama and the breadth of opportunity that could arise from our individual progress in creating a global logistics hub.”