Houston and Panama Canal Authorities Team to Boost Trade

The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) and the Port of Houston Authority renewed their strategic alliance during an official ceremony in Panama City, Panama this week. The partnership, which was originally formed in 2003, is now extended for five years until 2016. It aims to boost trade along the "All-Water Route" between Asia and the U.S. Gulf Coast via the Panama Canal and the Port of Houston Authority.

Port Commission Chairman James T. Edmonds and ACP Administrator/CEO Alberto Alemán Zubieta signed the memorandum of understanding, inking the renewed partnership.

As a result of the Panama Canal expansion project, the anticipated increase in containerized cargo going to Houston could grow by 15 percent in the next few years, with a projected 150 percent increase to a total of 4.5 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) by 2030.

The $5.25 billion expansion of the Panama Canal, which broke ground in 2007, includes the construction of a new set of locks that will allow the transit of longer and wider ships.

The Port of Houston Authority and the ACP will both celebrate their centennial in 2014 – the same year that work on the waterway’s expansion is expected to be completed.

"The renewal of this agreement signals an even stronger relationship between Houston’s port and Panama," said Port Commission Chairman James T. Edmonds. "We look forward to the increased trade expected from the Canal’s expansion, jobs creation and enhanced economic development in the region as we move toward another century of progress."

"As we forge ahead with the expansion of the Panama Canal, we are committed to strengthening our partnerships with ports in the United States," said ACP Administrator/CEO Alberto Alemán Zubieta. "The expansion will benefit ports along the East and Gulf Coasts of the U.S., and we look forward to continuing our relationship with the Port of Houston Authority."

With this renewed agreement, the two entities’ objective is to foster significant growth in trade and to increase traffic through the Canal with such activities as:

• Joint Marketing to generate new shipping business via promotions, advertising and public relations activities;
• Data Sharing to forecast future trade flows and market trends;
• Market Studies Exchange that may benefit either party in future product development or business venture;
• Sharing of Information Related to modernization and improvement projects that serve as a benefit to business and spur increased demand; and,
• Technological interchange of advanced technology capabilities and programs to spur cutting-edge initiatives in the shipping and maritime community.

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