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HomeNewsArchivesEDA Officials in Panama to Explore Opportunities for St. Croix Port

EDA Officials in Panama to Explore Opportunities for St. Croix Port

A delegation of U.S. Virgin Islands officials traveled to the 43rd Annual Caribbean Shipping Association conference to explore the opportunity created by the impending widening of the Panama Canal and its potential for economic opportunity for the territory.

In a news release Wednesday, Government House pointed to "Third Set of Locks Project," estimated to be completed by 2015, which will allow large freight ships to pass through the canal for the first time.

The project could allow the island of St. Croix to capitalize on the increased freight traffic by developing a transshipment facility, using the available 100-plus acres of land at the Renaissance Park.

Possible benefits to the territory include placing St. Croix in a position to be one of the central locations regulating inventory stockpiles for major manufacturers and distributors across the United States and worldwide, the news release from Government House said.

Such a facility would result in a streamlined means of servicing the needs of customers while reducing the cost of the total inventory system, according to the release. Potentially, because the facility would be in a U.S. territory, any manufacturer could use the V.I. workforce for production and label the goods as "Made in the USA."

The U.S. Virgin Islands delegation includes Percival E. Clouden, chief executive officer of the V.I. Economic Development Authority; Jack Thomas, senior vice president of development for St. Croix Renaissance Park; Vickeé Armstrong, district manager of the V.I. Port Authority; and marketing consultant Andrew Clutz of the V.I. Economic Development Authority.

Another prospective benefit to the Panama Canal expansion is the increased accessibility for larger cargo ships, called “Super Post-Panamax” vessels, some of which are more than 300 yards wide. These cargo ships will be able to cross the canal through a first-time, all water shipping access to ports on the Gulf of Mexico and the East Coast. This alternative will give companies less expensive options for shipping to those ports and might ultimately change global trade routes.

Since the Renaissance Park on St. Croix already has a deep-water port that is strategically located at the hub of a major international shipping route for import, export and transshipment, members of the V.I. delegation are also exploring the infrastructure and technological requirements to accommodate such large containers, meeting with key executives in the industry to discuss partnering strategies for developing an international transshipment port on St. Croix.

The V.I. group was scheduled to meet with Carlos Urriola of Manzanillo International Terminal, one of the largest container transshipment terminals and distribution centers in the Panama region. The delegation also scheduled a tour of the City of Knowledge, a Panama national technology park focused on growing knowledge based industries with focus on research and development in IT and health care.

The purpose of the tour was to benchmark and learn from best practices in the growth of technology businesses using a combination of government leadership, broadband access and industry assets to grow and enhance the economy.

According to the maritime industry website MarineLog.com, the Third Set of Locks Project will double the capacity of the Panama Canal by 2015 by creating a new lane of traffic and allowing more and larger ships to transit. The project will build two new locks, one each on the Atlantic and Pacific sides, excavate new channels to the new locks, and widen and deepen existing channels.

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