Limon: logistics hub for the region
Assuming final approval next year for a container port, built and run by APM Terminals, Limon could be a cargo and tourism hub, which each year generates revenue of hundred of millions of dollars, thanks to a depth of 16 meters of water, unique in the Caribbean.
This is nearly two meters more than Panama’s Manzanillo Terminal, which calls itself the “Transhipment Port of the Americas”.
Most Asian ships today use Manzanillo, when they deliver products to the region.
But the Panama Canal is part of the route for these ships, which are getting bigger.
The new canal will take ships, which are deeper than 15 meters.
When big ships from Asia go through the canal, they might not fit in Manzanillo.
Instead, they would unload in Limon.
Small ships would come to Limon from Colombia, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.
Each would take home part of the cargo.
Limon would also get traffic from big European ships, most of which today unload in the Dominican port of Caucedo.
But Caucedo is less than 15 meters deep.
The transshipment business would be in addition to handling most of Costa Rica's exports and imports.
With these operations, Limon would grow significantly.
As part of its logistics business, the port would expand to include warehouse and commercial operations.
In terms of tourism, APM, the world’s biggest port company, belongs to Maersk, a Danish company, which owns the world’s biggest fleet of cargo ships.
The two companies would attract ships, which bring visitors to Limon, Tortuguero and Puerto Viejo.
None of this may happen.
Some Limon residents oppose the project, on the grounds that it will cause a loss of jobs in the existing port.
Others fear that only APM and the central government will make money from the new terminal, while Limón gets little or nothing.
But with a big potential benefit, it should be possible to find a solution.
Limón has a unique opportunity: 16 meters.