PANAMA CITY, Panama, August 8, 2011 – The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) and the Port of New Orleans renewed their strategic alliance today with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

First initiated in 2003, the partnership aims to spur investment, increase trade and promote the “All-Water-Route” (the route from Asia to the U.S. East and Gulf Coasts via the Panama Canal).

“Today’s ceremony reinforces a strategic collaboration with the Port of New Orleans,” said ACP Administrator/CEO Alberto Alemán Zubieta. “With the Canal’s expansion nearing completion, we remain dedicated to a shared vision for the shipping and maritime community.”

With over 6,000 vessels moving via the Mississippi River per year, the Port of New Orleans is considered to be one of the world’s busiest waterways. It is the only deepwater port in the United States served by six “Class One” railroads, giving port users direct and economical rail service to or from anywhere in the country. According to a 2004 study conducted by Martin Associates, the Port generates 160,498 jobs, $8 billion in earnings, $17 billion in spending and $800 million in taxes statewide.

“Through investment and commitment, the Port of New Orleans is readying itself for the increased cargo an expanded Panama Canal will bring to the Gulf Coast,” said Gary LaGrange, President and CEO of the Port of New Orleans. “We have historically maintained strong ties with our friends and partners in Panama and our continued relationship will enable both parties to provide an efficient, cost-effective transportation route from Mid-America to the world.”

In the past ten years, the Port of New Orleans has devoted more than $400 million to new state-of-the-art facilities such as wharves, terminals, marshalling yards, cranes and transportation infrastructure. Most recently, the Board of Commissioners of the Port of New Orleans invested over $108 million toward ten completed or ongoing construction projects in areas such as containerized cargo, break bulk cargo and cruising.

The Canal’s expansion remains on track following the recent pouring of permanent concrete work for the new Atlantic side locks.

The $5.2 billion 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.

About Port of New Orleans
The Port of New Orleans is a diverse general cargo port at the center of the world’s busiest port complex – Louisiana’s Lower Mississippi River. Its proximity to the American Midwest via a 14,500-mile inland waterway system, six Class-One railroads and the interstate highway system makes New Orleans the port of choice for the movement of cargoes, such as steel, natural rubber, coffee, containers and manufactured goods. The Port of New Orleans is America’s most intermodal port – served by 75 truck lines, 16 barge lines and 50 ocean carriers. The Port’s facilities include 20 million square feet of cargo handling area, more than 3.1 million square feet of covered storage area and 1.7 million square feet of cruise and parking facilities. For more information, please visit www.portno.com.

About the Panama Canal Authority (ACP)
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 visit http://www.pancanal.com/. You can also follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/thepanamacanal.