This paper analyses the effects of changes in maritime container transport, unemployment levels, competitiveness and trade agreements on the per capita gross domestic product (GDP) of the countries on the west coast of Latin America. A sample of 23 ports along the west coast is used, with 8 observations over the period from 2008 to 2015. Panel data estimations are performed for basic fixed effects, (robust) fixed effects and panel-corrected standard error (PCSE) models, with the characteristics of the sample. In this research, the estimation method that is found to produce the best results is the PCSE model. The results support the use of containerized cargo volume as a significant variable of economic growth; they also highlight the need to invest in port infrastructure and to continue to implement outward-looking trade policy instruments.