Port Officials Expect More Business From CAFTA - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

08/02/05

Port Officials Expect More Business From CAFTA

President Bush signed the Central American Free Trade Agreement Tuesday, and it could mean more business for the Port of Gulfport.

The agreement - with Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic - eliminates tariffs and opens up the region to U.S. goods and services. It also lowers obstacles to investment in the area and strengthens protections for intellectual property.

The port of Gulfport is already doing business with Central American countries. Port officials say each week three major carriers ship cargo to and from that region.

Director Don Allee says he expects trade to increase now that there are fewer restrictions.

"Fortunately, the Mississippi Port Authority is working from a long range strategic master plan, so we were planning for events such as free trade agreements. We're in an expansion mode right now. So the 60 acres we're adding to our container terminal will be delivered in a very timely fashion to the increased shipments we see to and from CAFTA countries," Allee said.

Allee says if shipments do increase at the Port of Gulfport, as he believes will happen, there is a good possibility that more workers will be needed.

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