According to the Editor in Chief of the Journal of Commerce, Peter Leach, there are few people in world history to who can be attributed to influence on the structuring of the maritime industry and world trade.
In an article published on August 31, 2012, Leach described the figures that, in his opinion, have had greatest impact on the maritime industry.
One such figure was Malcolm McLean, inventor of the container that drove what became known as the container revolution.
The list includes Maersk McKinney Moller, who developed the largest container line in the world and became one of the largest port operators.
“Now, at the end of a phase of his long career managing the Panama Canal, we can confidently include the name of Alberto Aleman Zubieta, who has changed the way the world’s shipping lines define their global routes when the Canal expansion project starts operations in 2015,” said Leach.
Until McLean developed the container and sent the first shipment on April 26, 1956 from Newark to Miami, maritime trade was very limited due to its high cost. Until then, a shipment of beer on the route cost $8 per ton, but with the appearance of the container, the cost dropped to $0.25 a ton.
The container revolution substantially reduced transport costs and changed the global economic geography.
McKinney-Moller Maersk, meanwhile, founded the Danish group AP Moller-Maersk in 1940, which became the leading shipping line in the world and is a major port terminal operator. In Panama it is the main user of the Canal and the Port of Balboa.
As Aleman Zubieta says, in the Journal of Commerce, his management of the Panama Canal has strengthened the competitiveness of the Panama route and economic activity revolves around the Canal. It was expected that the capacity of the Canal route would become saturated around 2012, and Alemán Zubieta undertook the expansion project technical studies to recommend the expansion.
Jim Newsome, president of the Port Authority of South Carolina, remembers Alemán Zubieta as enthusiastically undertaking the project. “But before he could start, he had to present the project to the people of Panama, which required management skills of a consummate politician,” Newsome told the Journal.
The Canal expansion has not only boosted huge investments in the ports of the East Coast of the United States, Central America, the Caribbean, Colombia and Brazil, among others, says the Journal of Commerce, but that “it is encouraging the development of new logistics centers in Panama, where they can process or assemble goods for export”.
It has also stimulated major investments of manufacturing firms on the US East Coast, anticipating growth in trade between West Africa and China, and the use of the Panama route for coal from Colombia to reach the US market, and the use of the route by huge ships carrying liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the US to Asia.
For the Journal, this is the great contribution of Alemán Zubieta to global trade development.
For the work of Alemán Zubieta, the Panama Canal expansion opens huge business opportunities, growth and development, as the country can take better advantage of its geographical position.
These opportunities should be supported by a strategy, on one hand, to realize the country’s potential as a logistics center and, on the other, to promote the development of agriculture and manufacturing for social impact, in order to take advantage of this growing connectivity that will be opened by the expanded Canal.
This post is also available in: Spanish