Port of Miami signs partnership pacts with three Latin ports
By Samantha Joseph
Three new seaport agreements could see the Port of Miami share cargo information, undertake joint ventures and encourage trade with Colombia's Port of San Andres Islands, Nicaragua's Autoridad Portuaria de Rama and the Port of Belize.
For Miami, the International Sister Seaports partnerships, signed last week, mean a better understanding of target markets for tourism-related business and trade and the chance to develop relationships that could translate to commercial opportunities.
"I can tell you that we see these agreements generate a spirit of cooperation," said Juan Kuryla, assistant port director for intergovernmental affairs and marketing. "Directly and indirectly, we promote each other."
Strengthening ties with Colombia, the Port of Miami's 11th-largest trading partner, could not hurt, he said. Each year, the two ports exchange 311,000 tons of cargo. And Miami could use its relationship with San Andres, a duty-free destination, to boost tourism marketing efforts, said Port of Miami spokesperson Andria Muniz.
Belize's popularity as a cruise destination has attracted all Miami-based ships, expanding the travel offerings from the Port of Miami, she said. Under the agreement, the local port intends to assist its Belize counterpart in improving visitor services to help meet the needs of passengers traveling from Miami.
"For us it's important to have this linkage with such a port," said Mr. Kuryla. "We believe the more contacts we have in those countries, the better it is for us."
For other sister ports - such as Nicaragua, which hopes to improve its infrastructure to boost trade with the rest of the region - the arrangement provides a partnership with one of the hemisphere's most active trade points.
The goal for all partnering ports is to improve business. Under the agreement, they agree to the "free and uninhibited exchange of information" on cargo and cruise data, port improvements and marketing research. The deal also allows for joint ventures, technical and financial support, and promotional efforts.
"The [Port of Miami] is considered the region's leading figure in the maritime industry both in terms of cruise and cargo," Ms. Muniz said. "As such, we reach out to all our neighboring ports to offer our expertise and support."
The latest agreements bring to Miami's sister ports arrangements to 33. Since 1998, the local port has signed deals with European, Caribbean, African and Latin American counterparts. These include Spain's Port of Santander, Nigeria's Port Authority, and Morocco's Port of Casablanca.
The arrangement with the Port Authority of Marseilles indirectly led to direct shipping service between the French port and Miami, Mr. Kuryla said. The relationship led to meeting of Miami officials and a major shipping company.
The result was a move by the world's fifth-largest steamship company, CMA-CGM, from Broward County's Port Everglades to Miami.
This month, the French company announced its transfer from Port Everglades of its Amerigo Service, which brought four ships and new routes to the Port of the Miami.
"Sometimes it's difficult to attribute things to a specific event and action, but a lot has to do with relationships," Mr. Kuryla said. "Although it is difficult to quantify what the impact is, it is definitely positive."