The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Port Everglades yesterday. ACP Administrator/CEO Alberto Alemán Zubieta and Port Everglades Director Phillip C. Allen signed the MOU during a ceremony held in Panama, agreeing to encourage new business and trade between both organizations.

“Today, we ensure that the ACP and Port Everglades will work together to promote trade to Florida via the Panama Canal. We are both committed to achieving growth and serving the needs of the maritime industry,” said Mr. Alemán Zubieta.

By signing the MOU, the ACP and Port Everglades agree to exchange information about their latest modernization efforts. The ACP and Port will also work together to promote maritime trade. This could include joint advertising programs, data interchange, and competitive market analyses of the shipping industry.

The total value of economic activity at Port Everglades is almost $18 billion and approximately 185,000 Florida jobs are impacted by the Port. Port Everglades’ trade through the Panama Canal with the Far East and West Coast of South America reached 909,893 short tons in fiscal year 2008 or 15 percent of Port Everglades’ containerized cargo throughput.

Currently, the Port is working toward increasing capacity to handle the larger ships that will transit the Canal post expansion. Slated for completion in 2014, the Panama Canal 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.

Port Everglades has a roadmap for the future through a comprehensive Master/Vision Plan – including a five-year Capital Improvement Plan, and 10- and 20-year Vision Plans – that is designed to guide the seaport’s growth efficiently. This Master/Vision Plan, approved in December 2007 by the Broward County Board of County Commissioners, includes an assessment of changing business trends and adjustments that have resulted from the post-9/11 environment. The Port Everglades Master/Vision Plan is estimated to cost a total of $2 billion over a 20-year period.

“East Coast ports, especially ports in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Virginia, are uniquely positioned to take advantage of shifting trade patterns, which will take place because of Panama’s visionary expansion plans. Consequently, for Southeast ports, it will be crucial to expand ship berths and ensure adequate harbor depth, as these larger ships will be the norm,” said Port Everglades Director Phillip C. Allen. “Today’s signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Port Everglades and the Panama Canal Authority marks our strong commercial and economic bonds and further strengthens it with an alliance for information-sharing and collaboration. It will provide the framework to work together in a series of activities promoting both the Canal and the Port.”