Norfolk -- The Virginia Port Authority (VPA) and the Ningbo Municipal Port Administration signed a memorandum of understanding this month establishing the groundwork for information sharing aimed at generating new business by promoting the all-water route between the growing Chinese seaport and Virginia.
The agreement will see both organizations cooperate, where possible, on marketing activities, market research, exchange of information, technology, modernization details and training.
"These kinds of agreements signify the beginnings of a working relationship and hopefully a long-term relationship where both parties benefit," said Rodney W. Oliver, the VPA's interim executive director. "China has been Virginia's number one trading partner for many years and having these kinds of agreements in place will help strengthen our relationship with that country."
Ningbo is one of the most important and busiest ports in mainland China. It is located on the coastal province of Zhejiang. The port is at the crossroad of the north-south shipping route and the important waterway of the Yangtze River. The port comprises several ports and recently merged with the neighboring Port of Zhoushan to form a combined cargo-handling center. The combined Ningbo-Zhoushan Port had a combined traffic of 627 million tons of cargo in 2010, making it the second-largest port in the world (after Shanghai) in terms of cargo volume.
The agreement was signed by Russell J. Held, A VPA deputy executive director and Chang Boaping, deputy director general, Ningbo Municipal Port Administration Bureau.
"Today we enjoy six weekly services between Ningbo and the Port of Virginia via both the Panama and Suez Canals," Held said. "One of the weekly services includes the biggest container vessels that come to the East Coast. They can load full with heavy Virginia export agriculture and forest products because of the deep water at both ports.
"Our goal with this MOU is to share operational best practices, jointly market our good service connectivity and drive investment and business growth on both ends of the supply chain."
Above: The VPA's Russell J. Held (left) and Port of Ningbo's Chang Boaping signed the memorandum of understanding on April 18. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (standing row,fourth from left) helped facilitate the agreement.