Wednesday 27 September 2023

Costs for grains in Costa Rica will increase due to drought in the Panama Canal

Only 32 ships cross per day; 90% of the products consumed in Costa Rica come from the United States and Brazil, via the Panama Canal to Caldera

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27 September 2023 - At The Banks - Source: BCCR

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QCOSTARICA –The price of basic grains, such as rice, flour, beans and sugar, could rise in the coming weeks, as there is a long queue of ships in the Panama Canal that cannot be imported.

Only 32 ships cross per day are authorized to cross the Panama Canal due to the drought

Panama authorities declared that the number of vessels allowed to pass through the Canal on a daily basis will be restricted to 32 in order to preserve water.

This is because the draft of water needed for a ship to pass through the Canal without scraping the ocean floor is not sufficient, so Panama is limiting the number of vessels that can transit through the Canal in response to the drought that is affecting the canal basin.

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The average waiting time for non-reserved transits is between 9 and 11 days as a result.

The water reserves that supply the Panama Canal have considerably lowered their flow as part of the effects of the El Niño phenomenon in the region.

This situation has hundreds of ships waiting to cross the artificial Gatun Lake, with merchandise for different parts of the world.

“It is important to highlight that 6% of international maritime trade transits through the Panama Canal, meeting the needs of 180 routes. This implies that raw material delays generate shortages and delays in production. On the other hand, many seasonal products will not arrive at the respective stores in the expected time and the price could rise up to 36%,” said Rodrigo Araya, professor of International Trade at the Fidélitas University.

While 80% of the cargo comes or leaves through the ports in Limon, however, basic grains arrive at the Caldera port in Puntarenas

It is important to clarify that imports and exports will not be affected because 80% of the cargo comes or leaves through the Caribbean, however, basic grains will.

“We have been attentive to this situation, vigilant and in contact with our associates to see the effects they are having, and we are concerned that there may be shortages and delays in some products that generate shortages and high prices,” said José Antonio Salas, president of the Chamber of Foreign Trade (Crecex).

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