The Georgia Ports Authority
(GPA) and the Panama Canal Authority
on Friday signed an historic agreement that will allow both agencies to jointly promote all-water shipping routes between Asia and the Port of Savannah.
"We project that nearly 700 vessels representing a total of over 1 million TEUs will use the Panama Canal to call on Savannah this year," said David A. Schaller
, GPA's Deputy Executive Director, who signed the agreement in an official ceremony today. "This strategic alliance will allow GPA and the Panama Canal Authority
to improve services for our customers and generate new economic opportunities for Georgia and the Southeastern United States
The agreement also provides for both parties to conduct joint marketing programs, share data, technology and information related to modernization.
"Nearly 70 percent of GPA's total cargo volume will travel via the Panama Canal this
year," said Schaller. "So it is absolutely essential that both authorities work as closely together as possible to enhance international trade."
The Port of Savannah has 13 all-water weekly services to the Far East that transit the Panama Canal, is the 2nd ranked port on the U.S. East Coast receiving imports from Asia, and the fifth largest containerport in the United States. The Port of Savannah accounts for 4.8% of the total U.S. import tonnage from China and ship traffic from China to Savannah grew by an amazing 39 percent last year, according to the World Trade Atlas. During FY02, the Port of Savannah welcomed
five new ocean carrier services to an already extensive list of liner services giving shippers more choices, better frequency and assurance of competitive rates.
"A key ingredient to our steady growth in the Asian market
is directly tied to our excellent partnership with America's major retailers," said Schaller. "As a result, Savannah is a regional distribution hub employing thousands of people."