Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Georgia, Virginia ports get OK for container gateway co-op

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File photo of Norfolk International Terminal. File photo of Norfolk International Terminal.

The Federal Maritime Commission has approved an agreement allowing the Georgia Ports Authority and the Virginia Port Authority to cooperate as an East Coast gateway for containerized cargo.

A joint application to proceed with development of the East Coast Gateway Terminal Agreement was filed by the ports on Feb. 24. The FMC approved the proposal in selective areas April 7 after a 45-day review period.

The agreement encourages the exchange of information and best practices in operational and supply chain efficiencies; safety; communications, and customer service. The five specific areas approved include:

  • 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 chassis and containers;
  • Joint or independent acquisition and use of marketing materials for ocean carriers, alliances, shippers, beneficial cargo owners (BCOs) and ocean transport intermediaries;
  • Commercial opportunities regarding carriers;
  • Acting as one, the GPA and VPA can meet and exchange 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. It also prohibits the ports from entering into agreements on rates, charges, terms or conditions on containers or chassis without filing an agreement with the FMC. Any joint discussions that lead to an agreement under the Shipping Act must be filed with the FMC, the ports said.

Rail service to both states' port facilities is provided by CSX, Norfolk Southern; Commonwealth Railway, and Norfolk & Portsmouth Belt Line Railroad also serve in Virginia.

"Our industry is changing rapidly and as a result increased collaboration between ports is necessary to provide the service excellence our customers expect and deserve," said Griff Lynch, GPA's executive director, in a joint statement. "It is clear that both Georgia and Virginia are East Coast gateway ports and this step further allows us to create jobs, economic development and improve safety. I would like to thank our respective employees and partners in the International Longshoremen’s Association as we move forward together."

"The agreement enables Georgia and Virginia to work together to find ways to become more efficient and effective, which will benefit the citizens of our respective states, as well as shippers and the carriers," VPA Chief Executive and Executive Director John Reinhart. "We are making significant investments at our respective ports to handle the larger vessels and cargo volumes coming to the East Coast. Now we will begin discussing about how to best leverage these assets, collectively and position Georgia and Virginia as the East Coast's primary cargo gateways."










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