Two Major Inland River Ports in the US and China Agree to Establish Marketing, Promotion and Other Relationships
Wuhan, Hubei Province China – During their November Board meeting, the Tri City Port Board of Commissioners ratified a cooperative agreement between America’s Central Port and Wuhan New Port, located in China.
At ceremonies held during the Third Annual Yangtze-Mississippi River Forum in early October, a representative of America’s Central Port and Wuhan New Port, located on the Yangtze River in Hubei Province China, signed a partnership agreement aimed at specifically establishing cooperative relationships between these two inland river ports. America’s Central Port is located on the Mississippi River just outside St. Louis, MO and is part of the third largest inland river port in the US. Wuhan New Port is located on the Yangtze River, and has long been the center of Chinese commerce, trade and finance in the middle reach of the river. The cooperative agreement that was signed involves promoting foreign trade between the two ports that will establish a framework for investment and will establish a network of information sharing and services between the two ports.
Held at the Wuhan East Lake Conference Center in Wuhan, Chin, a signing ceremony was held at the outset of the river forum between Zhang Lin, Director of Wuhan New Port’s Management Committee, and with Dennis Wilmsmeyer, Executive Director of America’s Central Port. The two waterways with some of the largest shipping capacities in the world shook hands and embraced a new era of cooperation for inland port development. America’s Central Port was invited to present information about the Port during the 3rd Annual Yangtze (China) – Mississippi (America) Strategic Partnership Forum. The forum consisted of over 350 officials, experts, scholars and senior executives from both China and America. Over the course of the forum, experts gave presentations on inland port development, intermodal transportation development and green port projects. Experts from the City of Chicago, the US Department of Transportation and the Port of New Orleans also gave presentations. Last year’s forum was held in New Orleans, Louisiana with next year’s to be held back in the US.
Under the agreement which was signed, Wuhan New Port and America’s Central Port will launch cooperation in such areas as construction and operation of port facilities, information sharing on construction of intermodal transport systems, and construction of green ports, establishing and managing free-trade zones as well as exchanging information about shipping services. According to specifics of the agreement, the two ports will regularly exchange insights on issues related to the development of intermodal transportation systems so as to promote the construction of Wuhan New Port’s intermodal-transportation system and America’s Central Port’s new South Harbor; furthermore, the two parties will share experiences in operating free-trade zones at inland ports and actively promote foreign investment in both China and the US. The two ports will also participate in site visits for investment potential and promote the cooperation of construction of logistics parks and ports with other parties as needed.
The agreement also states that the two Ports will work together jointly to promote the construction of green ports; sharing information on planning environmental port protection programs and energy-saving efficiencies. Each Port will develop their facilities and operations into an environmentally, ecologically and resource-friendly new green port with low energy consumption and will share best management practices to decrease environmental impacts. The two parties will regularly exchange information on the economic development of ports and share information, especially on shippers which are involved in Sino-American bilateral trade.
Finally, they will exchange ideas on shipping services, exploring such business as import and export services, logistics and warehouses, value-added manufacturing and promoting in-transit transportation services of inland waterways, so as to improve the shipping service capabilities of the two ports. Wuhan New Port, the sponsor of the forum, expresses that the forum is the “wisdom engine” that drives the construction of Wuhan’s Middle Reaches Shipping Center of Yangtze River. Wuhan New Port is one of China’s newest ports planned and developed starting in 2008. The port is intended to combine rail and waterborne transportation of freight in the upper and middle reaches of the Yangtze River. The port covers the central and western provinces of China. Wuhan officials are interested in learning more about the integration of intermodal freight development from America’s Central Port. As the largest rivers in America and China respectively, the Mississippi and Yangtze rivers boast extensive opportunities to cooperate in port construction and operation, development of port-centered economies, construction and management of free-trade zones and the development of intermodal shipping services.
Dennis Wilmsmeyer, Executive Director of America’s Central Port, said that “both Ports will encourage Chinese and US based companies to conduct business in the US and in China. As an approved Foreign Trade Zone, America’s Central Port offers companies located in the zone a benefit from tax deductions and exemptions”. America’s Central Port has also established a special Foreign Service Markets Center for foreign trade where the import duties can be deducted, settled later or exempted, and will provide office space, legal aid and business guidance to foreign companies wishing to locate in the US.
Located in the center of the United States, America’s Central Port is the Midwest’s water, road and rail-transportation system hub. The 1200-acre port area consists of a transportation business park, 200-acre northern harbor transit facility and over 2.5 million square feet of warehouse and office space. Wuhan New Port is located in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River. The port consists of 26 port areas in Wuhan, Ezhou, Huanggang and Xianning cities. The two parties promised to adopt preferential policies to encourage foreign trade companies to invest and establish offices at the other port’s facilities.
China overtook Canada last year as the biggest market for exports from the St Louis metropolitan area according to the US Department of Commerce. The International Trade Administration reported that exports from metro St. Louis increased nine percent in 2011 to $12.3 billion. The biggest exporting industries were chemicals, mining and transportation equipment. St. Louis area companies sold $1.9 billion worth of goods to Chinese markets, double what was sold in 2008.
US goods and services trade with China totaled $539 billion last year with exports totaling $129 billion and imports totaling $411 billion. US exports of agricultural products to China totaled $18.9 billion in 2011 with leading categories of trade which include soybeans, cotton, and grains. US direct foreign investment in China was $60.5 billion in 2010 and Chinese investment in the US totaled $3.2 billion and is lead by the wholesale trade sector.
China has been a focus of the metropolitan area in recent years with trade delegations back and forth between representatives in St. Louis regarding the Midwest “China Hub” at Lambert Airport and with Mid America Airport, located in Mascoutah, which just signed a cooperative agreement with the Port of Ningbo in China. Mid America Airport is part of America’s Central Port Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ 31).
ABOUT AMERICA’S CENTRAL PORT– Originally created in 1959, America’s Central Port which is managed by the America’s Central Port is a special-purpose unit of local government. The Port’s activities include loading or unloading 3000 barges each year; rail and truck bulk transfer facilities for agricultural products, steel, fertilizer and asphalt; foreign trade zone operations; commercial warehousing; industrial property development; office space leasing; recreational facilities and residential communities.
ABOUT WUHAN NEW PORT– Wuhan is the capital of Hubei Province and is the most populous city in central China. It is located at the intersection of the middle reaches of the Yangtze and Han River and is known as the “leading thoroughfare” of nine Chinese provinces serving as a major rail, road and transportation hub. Wuhan is sometime referred to as the Chicago of China because of its role in domestic transportation. The port facilities were planned in 2008 and is being developed in several phases consisting of rail development and waterborne transportation integration in several areas along the river.