To help spur growth and capitalize on the Panama Canal’s expansion, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) and Port Manatee embarked on their first-ever strategic alliance. In an official ceremony held in Panama City, Panama, ACP Administrator/CEO Alberto Alemán Zubieta and Port Manatee Executive Director David L. McDonald signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to boost joint marketing, and encourage the exchange of information and business insight.
As part of the partnership, the ACP and Port Manatee may undertake a series of activities to promote both the Port and Canal including joint advertisements and competitive market analyses. The agreement demonstrates each organization’s commitment to encouraging increased trade and meeting the needs of today’s maritime and shipping industries.
“The MOU with the Panama Canal Authority formalizes a relationship we have enjoyed for nearly 40 years,” observed Mr. McDonald. “Our mutual customers have saved millions of dollars and countless man-hours over the years by utilizing the world’s most important shortcut.”
Earlier this year, the Manatee County Port Authority approved the Port’s $750m master plan, which funds initiatives, such as berth expansions and dredging projects, that could ultimately help the Port accommodate larger and wider ships coming from the expanded Panama Canal. The Canal’s expansion project will build a new lane of traffic along the Panama Canal through the construction of a new set of locks, which will double capacity and allow more traffic and longer, wider ships.
Essentially, the Port Manatee plan focuses on attracting container traffic. Analysts expect this segment to triple over the next 20 years. In fact, containerized cargo now represents more than 50 percent of the waterway’s “All-Water Route” – extending from Asia to the U.S. East and Gulf Coasts via the Panama Canal.
Fiscal year 2008 tonnage at Port Manatee totaled 8.3 million short tons with 16 percent of those goods traveling through the Panama Canal.