On September 7, Panama Canal Authority (ACP) Administrator/CEO Alberto Alemán Zubieta and Antwerp Port Authority Chief Operations Officer Christiaan De Block signed an important Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to jointly help foster commercial activity between the two authorities.
The first of its kind between the ACP and a European port, the MOU will increase cooperation, such as joint marketing and coordination on modernization and expansion projects, and help boost trade between the Port of Antwerp and the West Coast of South America via the Panama Canal.
Additionally, the Port of Antwerp is equipped with a post-Panamax locks system that operates with rolling gates (similar to the ones that will be built with the expanded Panama Canal) and uses tugboats to position the vessels instead of locomotives.
“This MOU differs from previously signed port agreements, because it allows us to exchange information with the Port of Antwerp regarding ship handling techniques for larger vessels that are unique to both the Port and the expanded Panama Canal,” said Mr. Alemán Zubieta. “We share a common interest in researching the proper use of tugboats, ensuring safe and efficient lockage operations without the use of locomotives, as well as carrying out cross-training activities for pilots and tugboat captains on large vessels and extensive ship simulation exercises.”
The MOU between the ACP and the Antwerp Port Authority may also include exchange of market studies and technological interchange of advanced capabilities and programs.
“The Port of Antwerp, the second port in Europe, has regular connections with more than 500 ports around the world, 300 of them on a weekly basis. Antwerp has strong maritime links with the West Coast of South America,” said Antwerp Port Authority CEO Eddy Bruyninckx. “More than 3 million tons of cargo and eight weekly liner services pass through the Canal. The widening of the waterway is of great importance, and a substantial growth in trade with the Americas is expected. This MOU intends to support this growth by mutual exchange of knowhow and expertise.”