Panama Table of Contents
Ship transits Miraflores Locks, Panama Canal
Courtesy Agency for International Development
Thatcher Bridge over Panama Canal
Courtesy Pan American Union
The Panama Canal continued to play a central role in world trade and Panama's economy in the mid-1980s. Some 5 percent of the world's trade in goods passed through the canal, contributing 9 percent of Panamanian GDP in 1983. This canal's location at one of the crossroads of international trade has spawned a plethora of other service-oriented activities, such as storage, ship repair, break bulk (the unloading of a portion or all of a ship's cargo), transshipment, bunkering, and distribution and services to ship travelers. The dynamism of the canal also was instrumental in the development of the CFZ, the trans-isthmian pipeline, and offshore financing. Evidence suggests, however, that the canal's relative importance to world trade is likely to continue to experience a small relative decline in the future, which has led Panama, together with the United States and Japan, to study alternatives for improving or replacing the canal.
Data as of December 1987