Panama Canal, Port of Philadelphia ink strategic alliance

The two bodies, which are undergoing major expansion initiatives to accommodate larger vessels, will promote the ‘all water route’ from Asia to Philadelphia via the canal as a way to generate new business.

The Port of Philadelphia and the Panama Canal have signed a strategic alliance to promote the flow of traffic between the eastern US city and Central American shipping canal, which handles half the port’s annual cargo.

Under the agreement, the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority (PRPA) and the Panama Canal Authority (PCA) will share marketing, research, data, technical advancements and personnel training programs, the PCA said in a statement. They will also seek to generate new business by promoting the “all water route”, a term referring to a direct shipping line from Asia to Philadelphia via the Panama Canal.

The agreement coincides with major expansion projects at both authorities aimed at accommodating traffic from larger vessels, with the PRPA sponsoring a five- to seven-year project to deepen the main channel of the Delaware River, on which the port is situated, from 40 feet to 45 feet.

Meanwhile a $5.25 billion project to expand the Panama Canal waterway, intended to double capacity by 2014, has secured financing from a host of multilateral banks and is on time and on budget, PCA said. Last year, nearly 2 million long tons of cargo on its way to or from the Port of Philadelphia traveled through the canal – a sum equivalent to about half of all cargo handled by the PRPA.

However, another expansion project at the Port of Philadelphia was recently put on hold. Last month the state of Pennsylvania suspended the bidding process for the development of a container terminal at the port, citing the need for financial market conditions to improve and pledging $25 million in capital support to advance the project.