The federal government on Friday gave its approval to an innovative agreement that allows the Georgia Ports Authority and the Virginia Port Authority to begin discussing ways the two ports can share information in certain operational areas to position themselves as the U.S. East Coast’s leading gateways 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 application set into motion a 45-day review period - including a 12-day public comment period - by the Federal Maritime Commission. The approved agreement encourages the exchange of information and best practices in five areas of operational and supply chain efficiencies, safety, communications and customer service. The five areas 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.
Conversely, the agreement:
- Does not cover discussions regarding purchase or lease prices for containers or chassis.
- Prohibits the ports from entering into agreements on rates, charges, terms or conditions on containers or chassis without filing an agreement with the FMC.
- Requires that joint discussions that lead to an agreement under the Shipping Act must be filed with the FMC.
“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.
“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 ILA as we move forward together.”
The agreement enables Georgia and Virginia to work together to find ways to become more efficient and effective, said John Reinhart, executive director and CEO of VPA.
“This will benefit the citizens of our respective states, as well as shippers and the carriers,” he said.
“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.”
Georgia Ports Authority’s deep-water ports and inland barge terminals support more than 369,000 jobs throughout the state annually and contribute $20.4 billion in income, $84.1 billion in revenue and $2.3 billion in state and local taxes to Georgia’s economy. In 2015, the Port of Savannah handled 8.2 percent of the U.S. containerized cargo volume and 10.3 percent of all U.S. containerized exports.
The Virginia Port Authority is a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The VPA owns and - through its private operating subsidiary, Virginia International Terminals, LLC - operates four general cargo facilities: Norfolk International Terminals, Portsmouth Marine Terminal, Newport News Marine Terminal and the Virginia Inland Port in Warren County. The VPA leases Virginia International Gateway and Richmond Marine Terminal. In fiscal year 2013, the Port of Virginia provided more than 374,000 jobs and generated $60.3 billion in total economic impact throughout the Commonwealth.