Port of Antwerp

Panama Canal Authority (ACP) chief executive Alberto Alemán Zubieta and Antwerp Port Authority CEO Eddy Bruyninckx have this week signed an historic Memorandum of Understanding aimed at fostering commercial activity between the two organisations.

The authorities hope the agreement – the first of its kind between the ACP and a European port – will increase cooperation, such as joint marketing and coordination on modernisation and expansion projects, and help boost trade between the Port of Antwerp and the west coast of South America via the Panama Canal.

In a statement, Mr Zubieta said the memorandum differed from previously signed port agreements, because it allowed ACP to access information from the Port of Antwerp on ship handling techniques for larger vessels, unique to both the port and the expanded Panama Canal.

He said: “We share a common interest in researching the proper use of tugboats, ensuring safe and efficient lockage operations without the use of locomotives, as well as carrying out cross-training activities for pilots and tugboat captains on large vessels and extensive ship simulation exercises.”

The two organisations said the agreement may also include exchange of market studies and technological interchange of advanced capabilities and programs.

“The Port of Antwerp, the second port in Europe, has regular connections with more than 500 ports around the world, 300 of them on a weekly basis, so Antwerp has strong maritime links with the west coast of South America,” said Mr Bruyninckx.

“More than 3m tonnes of cargo and eight weekly liner services pass through the Canal.

“The widening of the waterway is of great importance, and a substantial growth in trade with the Americas is expected. This memorandum intends to support this growth by mutual exchange of knowhow and expertise.”