Panama Canal, state Port at Gulfport sign partnership

Gov. Haley Barbour will sign a memorandum of understanding with Panama Canal Authority and state Port at Gulfport officials to increase trade at the state's facility as the Panama Canal expands, the governor said in a press release today.

Barbour joined Panama Canal Authority Administrator and CEO Alberto Alemán Zubieta and Mississippi State Port Authority at Gulfport Executive Director and CEO Donald R. Allee to launch a partnership in Panama by signing a Memorandum of Understanding to increase economic growth, spur international trade and promote the “All-Water Route” (the route from Asia to the U.S. East and Gulf Coasts via the Panama Canal).

“Maritime commerce is vital to Mississippi’s economy, and the expansion of the Panama Canal provides the state with considerable opportunities for increased trade and worldwide shipping,” said Barbour. “Through the partnership with the Panama Canal Authority, the Port of Gulfport will be able to offer even more businesses quick, affordable access to nearly three-quarters of American consumers."

During an official ceremony, the Panama Canal Authority and the Mississippi State Port Authority affirmed their commitment to mutual growth and cooperation. Renewable after five years, the agreement will allow for joint marketing ventures, information sharing and technological exchange.

“Today’s MOU signing represents a great opportunity for Panama and Mississippi to build upon our existing offerings and trade relationship through a mutually beneficial alliance,” said Alemán Zubieta. “One of the primary tenets of the ACP is to continually look for creative approaches to boost trade flows and provide safe, reliable and efficient service to the international maritime community. This agreement is one way that we can help achieve this goal."

Both the Panama Canal Authority and the Port are dedicated to further increasing capacity and fostering business development. In 2009, Panama was Mississippi’s third largest trading partner, in terms of exports, after Canada and Mexico.

Read more about this story in Tuesday's Sun Herald.