Port authorities in Virginia and Georgia may engage in discussions on a variety of commercial and operational topics under the East Coast Port Gateway Terminal Agreement that took effect April 10. This agreement is one of a small but growing number of agreements among port authorities, marine terminal operators, and others seeking to join forces to maintain and improve their global competitiveness.

A joint press release from the Georgia Ports Authority and the Virginia Port Authority states that the agreement encourages the exchange of information and best practices in five areas.

- cargo handling practices and terms, gate operations and access, turn times, staffing, and infrastructure

- joint or independent acquisition, utilization, and best practices relating to operating systems and equipment, including metrics relating to the repair and use of chassis and containers

- joint or independent acquisition and use of marketing materials for ocean carriers, alliances, shippers, beneficial cargo owners, and ocean transportation intermediaries

- commercial opportunities regarding carriers

- exchanging operational information and performance criteria with carriers, shippers, and other marine terminal operators

The agreement does not cover discussions regarding purchase or lease prices for containers or chassis and prohibits the ports from entering into agreements on rates, charges, terms, or conditions on containers or chassis without filing an agreement with the FMC.

“The U.S. East Coast continues to see larger vessels and cargo exchanges since the opening of the expanded Panama Canal last year,” a joint press release issued when the agreement was filed with the Federal Maritime Commission in February said. “Increasingly, our customers are seeking gateway ports on the East Coast that can leverage sufficient landside infrastructure to ensure the free flow of cargo. The states of Georgia and Virginia have made the necessary investments to prepare for this new era in global trade. The East Coast Gateway Terminal Agreement is an innovative collaboration that will allow us to find new ways to become more efficient and effective.”

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