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Thursday, March 21 2019 @ 11:47 PM UTC

Alabama port to expand trade with Panama

Canal ExpansionBIRMINGHAM BUSINESS JOURNAL - BY Jimmy DeButts STAFF - The Alabama State Port Authority has been named the ninth largest port in the nation in terms of tonnage and officials are hoping to expand trade with an agreement with Panamanian businesses. Alabama State Port Authority Director James Lyons is scheduled to meet Panamanian business leaders Tuesday to address boosting trading operations with the Central American nation. Lyons is scheduled to meet with top officials at the Panama Canal Authority, according to a news release. On Wednesday, ASPA and the ACP are scheduled to sign their first Memorandum of Understanding to expand opportunities along the “All-Water Route” between Alabama and Asia, the release said. The Panama Canal is currently undergoing an expansion to double the waterway’s capacity and allow more ship traffic. Panama’s improvements on its canal served as one of the catalysts for capital investments undertaken at Alabama’s only deep water seaport, the release said. In recent years, the ASPA completed a $300 million container terminal in partnership with APM Terminals North America, a subsidiary of Maersk, and CMA CGM. Work began last year on a new turning basin in the lower harbor that will allow for vessels is excess of 900 feet in length to access the port’s deeper draft terminals. A $112 million intermodal rail facility is also under construction in McCalla to capitalize on the port’s five Class I railroads. Under a deal with Norfolk Southern, containers will move into the proposed McCalla facility on an existing Norfolk Southern rail line that originates at the state’s port instead of along Interstate 65 via truck. (Birmingham Business Journal)

Editor's Comment: Practically every port on the Atlantic side of the US is licking its chops at the prospect of seeing additional ships and tonnage thanks to the expansion of the Panama Canal, mostly traffic from Asia that currently comes into the US through the existing major West coast ports. Practically every East coast port is looking at some kinds of plans for expansion, improving facilities, adding more cranes, and being able to handle larger ships with more cargo and containers. These port facilities have mostly evolved over the past 100 years to handle the ships they see - the smaller Panamax ships that could pass through the Panama Canal. Now, all bets are off and there is a sort of gold rush developing - competition between these ports to see which one will be in the best position to receive the lion's share of the new traffic. On the backside of the port will be expansions of trucking and rail facilities, all because there's new money to be made. Remember this is mostly a zero sum game - where one port facility gains another West coast facility will be cutting back and laying people off. The expanded Panama Canal doesn't necessarily mean there will be more trade and ship traffic, it will just change where those ships will dock in the US.

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