Adding Insult To Injury

In the September 20th issue of the Singapore BUSINESS TIMES, this is what George Joseph writes under the headline, “Expansion important for global economy, says George Yeo”

“(SINGAPORE) Foreign Affairs Minister George Yeo has expressed the Singapore government’s support for a proposal to expand the Panama Canal, saying the canal is important for the whole global economy.

“‘The Panama Canal expansion is important not just for Panama but for the entire (maritime) industry and for the global economy,’ Mr. Yeo said during a tour of the canal’s Miraflores Locks visitor’s centre.

“Mr. Yeo made a three-day official visit to Panama, the South American country (sic) that operates the famed 92-year-old link between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

“‘Singapore is a maritime hub. We live on trade. And the more open the world is to free movement of ships, the better it is for Singapore,’ Mr. Yeo told Panama’s Minister of Canal Affairs Ricaurte Vasquez, who briefed the Singapore visitors on the expansion proposal and canal operations. Dr. Vasquez is also chairman of the Panama Canal Authority Board.

“‘We hope that you widen the canal because it is good for the overall system,’ he said, according to a Panama Canal Authority (ACP) statement …”

“Earlier this year, Singapore signed a free trade agreement (FTA) with Panama, and Mr. Yeo’s trip was aimed at furthering economic cooperation between Singapore and Panama within the framework of that FTA …”

“The Panama Canal’s expansion plan, aimed at relieving the increasing congestion at the canal, would see a new lane of traffic created, doubling its capacity …”

“The plan initially caused unhappiness among the world’s shipping lines, which have to bear the entire cost of the expansion through toll increases. But the plan is now gaining significant support from the maritime industry …”

“Its expansion will help maximise Panama’s strategic location to become a leading maritime hub of the Americas, the ACP said in a statement …”

Cui bono? To whom goes the benefit? Singapore, Panama, “the world’s shipping lines”, and “the maritime industry”… naturally.

But who will foot the bill? Certainly not Panama, Singapore, “the world’s shipping lines”, or “the maritime industry”. [It’s in the works already. The U.S. consumer will get stuck again … naturally.]