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Port of South Louisiana representatives recently traveled to Panama to sign an amended memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Panama Canal Authority. Signed in January 2013, the initial MOU launched a cooperative alliance directed at facilitating international trade and generating new business between Asia and the port via the Panama Canal. The amendment solidifies the agreement for five years and can be renewed upon mutual agreement.Under the MOU, the port and authority agree to partake in joint marketing initiatives, exchange cargo movement/transit information and relevant market study results, and share knowledge regarding improvements or modernization efforts aimed at meeting higher demand.At least 30 percent of the port's exports — primarily grain — are shipped to Asian countries. The port is served by CN, Kansas City Southern and Union Pacific Railroad. The most efficient and fuel-saving route to Asia is via the Panama Canal, port officials said in a press release."It makes total sense to work with the Panama Canal Authority in cross-promoting our respective entities and regions," said Executive Director Paul Aucoin. "Our partnership would not only increase revenues, but also encourage job opportunities from the increase in traffic."Meanwhile, the authority recently reported that the Panama Canal's tonnage increased 2 percent to 326.8 million in fiscal-year 2014, which ended Sept. 30. The gain primarily was driven by bulk carrier volume that climbed 18.2 percent to 85.9 million tons compared with FY2013."The dynamic movement of bulk through the Panama Canal in the last fiscal year is attributed to the surge in grain cargo flows from the U.S. Gulf to Asia," authority officials said in a press release.The port's massive expansion — which involves the construction of a third lane of traffic to accommodate the passage of bigger vessels — now is nearly 80 percent complete.
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