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By: Phil Sneed

Texas manufacturers are in a buzz these days regarding the expansion of the Panama Canal, as it will open up a much-desired opportunity to reach new markets in Asia. At the same time, Texas ports can expect an increase in imports.

A third, wider lane of locks will allow bigger ships to move between Asian and Texan ports.

A third-party logistics provider, Tandem Logistics is closely monitoring these developments, which could help spur in a boom of domestic production. Texas is already leading the nation in exports, and the increased shipping from major Texas locations can only increase this lead. Texas’s business-friendly environment has already created the perfect breeding ground for economic success. Dallas, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio are some of the fastest-growing economic regions in the country. Being able to move freight from Texas across the globe (and vice versa) will further cement the state’s place as an economic powerhouse.

Starting in 2006 and slated for completion in 2015, the “Third Set of Locks” project aims to widen the Panama Canal to the point of being able to contain ships nearly two and a half sizes larger than originally supported vessels. Pacific manufacturers plan on increasing their trade with the United States through the Port of Houston in Texas. This port alone accounts for as much as 1,026,820 jobs, $170.5 billion in statewide economic impact, and $4.5 billion in state/local tax revenues as recorded in 2012. This makes trade with Texas a far more promising prospect than the Port of Long Beach, which currently accounts for 316,000 jobs and $100 billion in trade.

Cargo ships were not as massive when the canal opened in 1914.

Expansion of the Canal has also piqued the interested of several Asian markets whose sights are set on the Barnett Shale near Dallas, which is reported to be the largest onshore deposit of natural gas in the United States. Demand for natural gas in Asian countries has skyrocketed since the tsunami and nuclear reactor meltdown that plagued Japan in 2011. The surge in interest in natural gas opens up a wide variety of possibilities for logistics providers to expand, profit, create new jobs and keep Texas as the leader of national exports.