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Houston Targets Panama Service

Goal is to maximize benefits from expanded Panama Canal

July 1, 2011

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The Houston Airport System (HAS) recently teamed up with the Greater Houston Partnership (GHP) and the Port of Houston Authority for a three day mission to Panama to discuss trade and investment opportunities.

The purpose of the mission, which ran from June 21 through June 24, was to strengthen ties between Houston and Panama in preparation for the expansion of the Panama Canal, which is slated to happen within the next 36 months.

A new super cargo lane of the Canal is expected to yield increased maritime activity and shipping from Asia to the United States.

Houston and Panama have strong economic and cultural ties. Houston ranks as Panama’s second largest U.S. trading partner.

In 2010, trade between Houston and Panama totaled $1.7 billion and more than 300 Houston companies reported doing business with Panama. The Houston/Galveston Customs District ranks as Panama’s second largest U.S. gateway for international trade while Panama is Houston’s 31st largest international trade partner.

Total annual trade between Houston and Panama nearly doubled from $897.3 million in 2009 to $1.7 billion in 2010. The Houston Airport System will greatly benefit from the expected increase in trade because of the Panama Canal Expansion.

“The expansion of the Panama Canal will create additional intermodal opportunities for shippers and logistics companies to enhance their supply chains,” said Mario C. Diaz, director of aviation for the Houston Airport System. “This new infrastructure also brings opportunities for new air connectivity between Panama and Houston, mainly for high-value items that require air service.”

George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston is in an excellent position to become the air hub connecting Panama to markets in Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

“At the same time, Panama is a great hub for air exports from Houston to Central and South America,” said Diaz. “In addition, we offer in Houston the new Fresh Air Cargo – IAH facility to handle perishable products, allowing Panama’s exporters to have a gateway in Houston for product distribution to the Central/South U.S. markets”.

The Houston/Galveston Customs District ranks as Panama’s eighth largest U.S. gateway for international air cargo trade. Annual air cargo trade between Houston and Panama totaled 86,904 kilograms in 2010 and was valued at $9.0 million. Houston offers 14 weekly direct non-stop flights per week to Panama City, Panama. 
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