•  Florida’s largest port renews agreement with the Panama Canal
  • Partnership will increase trade, facilitate information sharing and promote the “All-Water Route”

PANAMA CITY, Panama, July 14, 2008 – The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) and the Tampa Port Authority (TPA) announced the renewal of their strategic alliance today, which will continue to help increase trade, facilitate information sharing and promote the “All-Water Route” (the route from Asia to the U.S. East and Gulf Coasts via the Panama Canal).

The two entities first signed a Memorandum of Understanding in October 2005, which prompted an increase in cooperation – such as joint marketing – between the Panama Canal and the Port of Tampa, and a boost in trade.

As Florida’s largest port, Tampa handles nearly 50 million tons of cargo per year; its business includes liquid and dry bulk, break bulk, cruise, as well as shipbuilding and repair. With a large local market of 8 million people within 100 miles, Tampa is a rapidly expanding container port and distribution center gateway.

“Tampa is home to one of the fastest-growing container markets in the United States, and the renewal of this partnership with the TPA is a symbol of our commitment to the advancement of the maritime industry and to working jointly for the benefit of our respective communities,” said ACP Administrator/CEO Alberto Alemán Zubieta. “With this strategic reaffirmation, we look forward to building upon the collaborative success of the past three years and continuing to provide a safe, reliable and efficient service to all our customers.”

While fertilizer exports and steel imports have long been significant commodities moving between Tampa and Asia via the Panama Canal, containers represent the most rapidly growing cargo segment on this trade lane today.

“Given Tampa’s huge local market and our plans for a five-fold increase in container terminal capacity, the Port is very well positioned to benefit as container lines expand their all-water services between Asia and the U.S. Gulf, one of the fastest-growing regions of the United States,” stated Tampa Port Director Richard A. Wainio.

In January 2008, the TPA hosted the major international conference, “Shifting International Trade Routes – Planning for the Panama Canal Expansion,” organized by the American Association of Port Authorities and the U.S. Maritime Administration. The forum featured ACP Vice President of Research and Market Analysis Rodolfo Sabonge, who briefed attendees on the project’s progress and benefits to global trade. Due to the event’s great success, a follow-up conference is now being planned for January 2009 in Tampa.

Expansion 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.

About the Tampa Port Authority
The Port of Tampa is the largest economic engine in West Central Florida, impacting nearly 100,000 jobs in a seven-county area and generating an annual economic impact on the region of $8 billion. The Tampa Bay area is Florida’s largest metropolitan market and one of the fastest growing economies in the United States. For more information, please visit the Web site at http://www.tampaport.com/.

About the Panama Canal Authority
The ACP is the autonomous agency of the Government of Panama in charge of managing, operating and maintaining the Panama Canal. The operation of the ACP is based on its organic law and the regulations approved by its Board of Directors. For more information, please refer to the ACP’s Web site: http://www.pancanal.com/.