Panama Canal Authority (ACP) Administrator/CEO Alberto Alemán Zubieta and Alabama State Port Authority (ASPA) Director/CEO James K. Lyons signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to jointly help foster commercial activity between the two entities.

The MOU will increase cooperation, such as joint marketing and coordination on modernization and expansion projects, and help boost trade along the increasingly important “All-Water Route,” the route from Asia to the U.S. East and Gulf Coasts via the Panama Canal. This arrangement is renewable on a two-year basis.

“This alliance is an example of the ACP’s strategy to forge partnerships with U.S. ports to promote the ‘All-Water Route,’ through the Panama Canal. These alliances will help improve services for our customers, generate commercial activity and foster economic development,” said Mr. Alemán Zubieta. “As the global economy recovers, we must continually pursue smart business partnerships. The exchange of ideas and information-sharing demonstrate our desire to execute solutions for the long-term growth needs of the shipping community and international trade.”

As the Panama Canal undergoes its historic expansion, which will double the waterway’s capacity and allow more traffic and the passage of longer and wider ships, the ASPA embarked on port improvements to capture the anticipated traffic growth. So far, ASPA has completed a $300 million (USD) container terminal in partnership with APM Terminals North America, a subsidiary of Maersk, and CMA CGM. Work began last year on a new turning basin in the lower harbor that will allow vessels, in excess of 900 feet in length, to access the Port’s deeper draft terminals. The Port is also constructing an intermodal rail facility to capitalize on the Port’s five Class I railroads and to expand the Port’s transportation reach into mid-west and southeast U.S. markets.

“We view Far East trade through the expanded Canal as most significant for both our port and our state,” said Mr. Lyons. “The expansion will increase traffic, as well as accommodate larger vessels, currently serving Asian trade lanes.”

Panamanian Ambassador to the United States Jaime Alemán also expressed his support for the agreement.

“I’m extremely happy to see the MOU between the ACP and the Alabama State Port Authority,” said Ambassador Alemán. “I also hope that this will be the beginning of a long-lasting relationship not only between the Port and the ACP, but also among our business communities, both of which stand to gain a lot as a result of this agreement.”

The MOU between the ACP and the ASPA may also include market studies exchange and technological interchange of advanced capabilities and programs.