Anthony J. Pennings, PhD


Visiting the Future of the Panama Canal

Posted on | November 2, 2011 | No Comments

I recently went to Panama with a group of our students in NYU’s MS in Management and Systems degree program and two faculty members from the Stern School of Business, Kristen Sosulski and Harry Chernoff. We met with business leaders and government officials and visited some small and large businesses. Panama is a study in contrast with some of the largest rain forests in the world surrounding its capital city which impressed me as one of the tallest cities I have ever seen (And I live in NYC!).

As one might expect, visiting the Panama Canal was the highlight of the trip. It had a special relevance for me because when my parents immigrated to the US from the Netherlands, they went first through the Canal and on to California where they caught a train to New York. The Canal is currently being upgraded to handle more and larger ships. Panama charges ships by their size, with the largest ships paying nearly a half million US dollars for the transit. As 60% of the world’s shipping is conducted through containers, it is worth noting that the upgrades planned for the Canal will allow ships carrying nearly 12,000 containers, more than twice as much as the current limit of 4,800 containers. Dr. Sosulski wrote this interesting blog about different ways to understand the Panama Canal through various modes of visualization.

Panama Canal We happened to be at the Canal the morning President Obama signed the trade agreement with Panama. The Panama – United States Trade Promotion Agreement or Tratado de Libre Comercio (TLC) entre Panama y Estados Unidos, is a bilateral agreement that has been in the works for the last ten years. The agreement is part of Panama’s plan to leverage the Canal to become a major commercial hub. Panama is striving to go beyond just providing passage between the great oceans to becoming the Singapore of the Americas.

The agreement is controversial but it opens Panama to a number of financial, insurance, and IT services. As the country continues to become a logistical hub for trade in the region, it will need increasingly sophisticated services for coordinating its shipping traffic, financing distribution operations, and ensuring safe passage for goods and services.


Anthony J. Pennings, PhD has been on the NYU faculty since 2001 teaching digital media, information systems management, and global communications. © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


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    Professor at State University of New York (SUNY) Korea since 2016. Moved to Austin, Texas in August 2012 to join the Digital Media Management program at St. Edwards University. Spent the previous decade on the faculty at New York University teaching and researching information systems, digital economics, and strategic communications.

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