With more than 60 percent of Panama Canal traffic originating from or traveling to the East Coast of the United States, the Panama Canal Authority
(ACP) announced a historic move to boost trade by striking a strategic alliance with the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport). The alliance will increase cooperation -- such as joint marketing -- between the Panama Canal and the Port of Boston
; it will also seek to boost trade along the "All-Water Route," the route from Asia to America's East Coast via the Panama Canal.
Today's event between the ACP and Massport, held at the Exchange Conference Center, was highlighted by a formal signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) by the Canal Administrator, Alberto Aleman Zubieta, and Massachusetts Port Authority Chief
Executive Officer Craig Coy. By mutual agreement the ACP/Massport MOU will continue for one year and will be renewable on an annual basis. Leading business and government figures from Massachusetts, shipping dignitaries and distinguished guests attended the ceremony.
During the past few years, containerized cargo transiting through the Panama Canal on the Asia-U.S. East Coast route has experienced significant growth as a result of an increase in demand for all-water services by shippers, creating new jobs and contributing to economic development. The Port of Boston is currently served by weekly direct ocean carrier service to and from the Far East via the Panama Canal.
"Having recently shifted our model to run the Panama Canal as a business, this cooperation agreement with the Massachusetts Port Authority is an example of the ACP's aggressive strategy to improve services for our customers, generate economic development in Massachusetts and increase trade along the 'All-Water Route,'" said Canal Administrator Alberto Aleman Zubieta.
Massport saw 266 container vessels make call in Boston in 2002, a 33 percent increase from 2001. The Port of Boston, the oldest continuously active port in the Western Hemisphere, processed more than one million metric tons of containerized cargo in 2002, an increase of four percent over 2001. During the first six months of 2003, the Conley Terminal at Massport saw a 14 percent increase to 90,117 containerized cargo twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) over the equivalent period in 2002, again emphasizing the growth of the Port of Boston as a major international shipping center and a critical element of New England's transportation infrastructure.