Best islands to vacation for The canal employed 14,000 people, only 4,000 of whom were Panamanian. The principal business of the canal is trade between the United States East Coast and Asia, anticipated to grow as China-U.S. trade increases. The canal also carries trade between Europe, the United States West Coast, and Canada, and increasingly, North-South American trade. The canal has a capability to handle about 50 ships a day, with its record day being 65. Passage averaged 24 hours per ship. Best islands to vacation 2016.