The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) announced the opening of its 19th global sales office in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Bui Quang Hung, Chairman of Barwil Sunnytrans JV Co., will serve as the Port of Savannah’s senior representative in Vietnam.

“The Port of Savannah’s sales and marketing team has been focused on Vietnam for some time, identifying opportunities and conducting extensive market research. As US retailers and manufacturers sourcing China are looking to diversify their supply chain strategies, Vietnam is the next logical step to support the sourcing needs of Savannah customers such as Wal-Mart, Target, K-mart / Sears, The Home Depot, Lowes, Dollar Tree, IKEA, and Pier 1 Imports to name just a few. The formal establishment of this office illustrates our long-term commitment to growing trade between Vietnam and Savannah through our Southeast Asia-Savannah Initiative in which we will move aggressively to brand the Port of Savannah as the primary gateway for trade between the US East Coast and this region. Having recently returned from a week-long mission to Vietnam as part of the Southeast Asia-Savannah Initiative, Vietnam is well on its way to establishing its role as a powerful, cost-effective sourcing option,” stated the Georgia Ports Authority’s director of trade development, John M. Wheeler.

During 2007, the Port of Savannah reported a 48% market share (37,155 teus) for all trade moving between Vietnam and US South Atlantic ports. On the export side, US cotton was one of the leading exports to Vietnam. In 2007, Savannah held a 90% market share of South Atlantic cotton exports to Vietnam. During 2007 furniture was a leading US import from Vietnam. The Port of Savannah reported in 2007 a 56% market share (18,148 teus) of total South Atlantic Furniture imports from Vietnam.

“We are extremely pleased that the Georgia Ports Authority has expanded its relationship with Wilhelmsen Ships Service to include our Ho Chi Minh City office. Vietnam, with a high literacy rate and lower labor costs than China, is emerging as an even larger player among global manufacturers of consumable goods. Our customers are looking outside of China to avoid possible supply chain disruptions in case of a major shock to China’s economy; Vietnam offers them a viable option. At the same time, Vietnamese shippers want to avoid the low productivity and delays associated with US West Coast ports. Our intent is to work with our counterparts in Savannah to make the Southeast Asia-Savannah Initiative a success. When Vietnamese decision-makers are directing cargo to US hubs like Dallas, Chicago, Memphis, Nashville, Charlotte, or St. Louis, they should automatically ‘think Savannah’ in terms of service reliability and faster to market access,” said Bui Quang Hung, Chairman of Barwil Sunnytrans JV Co.

Added Hung, “The Port of Savannah today provides 21 all-water Asian services, five of which call via the Suez Canal; we expect the number of services via both canals to grow over the next 18 months. Even more important, the Port of Savannah is in the process of deepening its harbor from a present depth of 12.8 meters at mean low water to 14.6 meters. With the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) scheduled to begin construction in 2009, completed by 2013, Savannah will be able to accommodate even larger vessels beyond the 5,000 TEU-class vessels currently calling the port. Savannah’s strength in intermodal capabilities allows it to cost-effectively serve 80% of the US population with Norfolk Southern Railroad and CSX Transportation both operating on-terminal. Savannah’s rail capabilities together with immediate access to two major interstates are critical to serving the 225-plus Georgia import distribution centers located within 5-hours of the Port of Savannah. The proximity of these distribution centers to Savannah provides a wealth of opportunities for Vietnamese cargo that we plan capture as part of the Southeast Asia-Savannah Initiative.”

In addition to serving as Chairman of Barwil Sunnytrans JV Co., Mr. Hung holds a B