Sharjah – MENA Herald: The robust UAE-USA trade relationship is to receive a further boost as a ‘Sister Ports’ agreement was signed between the Department of Seaports & Customs, Government of Sharjah, in the United Arab Emirates, represented by His Excellency Sheikh Khaled Bin Abdullah Al Qasimi of the Department of Seaports & Customs, Government of Sharjah, and the Canaveral Port Authority of Florida in the United States of America, represented by Jerry Allender, Chairman, Canaveral Port Authority Board of Commissioners.

The signing ceremony was hosted by Gulftainer – the largest privately-owned, independent port operator in the world which recently expanded into the USA with a new concession at Port Canaveral – and was held at the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce in the presence of Shaikh Fahim Bin Sultan Bin Khalid Al Qasimi, Head of the Department of Government Relations in the Emirate of Sharjah, Badr Jafar, Vice Chairman of Gulftainer and Managing Director of Crescent Group, Wayne Justice, Commissioner of Port Canaveral; Frank Kruppenbacher, Chairman of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority; Mohammed Meer Al Sarrah, Director of Department of Seaports & Customs, Government of Sharjah; Jersh Mohammed Bin Jersh, Director of Sharjah Creek Customs; and Yaqoub Hassan Abdulla, Director of Marketing & Head of Administration of the Department of Seaports & Customs, Government of Sharjah. The agreement confirms the two ports’ status as ‘sister ports’ in order to extend their mutual understanding for the development of economic resources, international trade and logistics.

A ‘Joint Declaration of Collaboration and Cooperation’ entered into will also explore new opportunities to develop cooperation between the ports and enable private companies within the catchment area of the respective ports to collaborate on trade and investment prospects. The port authorities also committed to exchange information and knowledge between them and develop commercial, technological and cultural ties for their mutual advancement.

The USA and the UAE enjoy a strong trade and investment relationship, with the UAE being the USA’s largest trading partner in the Middle East region, a distinction the UAE has held for six straight years. Since 2009, bilateral trade has grown more than 80 per cent exceeding more than US $24 billion in 2014. This represents one of the fastest growing USA economic partnerships, both globally and especially in the Gulf region.

Sheikh Khaled Bin Abdullah Al Qasimi of the Department of Seaports & Customs, Government of Sharjah, stated: “We are delighted to be part of such an important moment in the history of the UAE-USA trade relationship. The ‘Sister Ports’ agreement strengthens our ties with an already strong partner of the UAE and reflects our commitment to establishing strong international relationships to boost the country’s economic development.”

Mr. Allender said: “We thank the Sharjah Port Authority for extending a hand of friendship to us, and Gulftainer for graciously hosting us. We look forward to a long prosperous relationship.”

As the main container terminal operator at both authorities’ facilities, Gulftainer, which first started its operations in Sharjah in 1976 with the first container terminal in the Arabian Gulf, will play a key role in enhancing communications between both organisations and the various clients and private companies currently calling at their ports.

Peter Richards, Managing Director of Gulftainer said: “As the operator of the container terminal at Port Canaveral, as well as three main ports in Sharjah on behalf of the Sharjah Port Authority, we have welcomed this agreement with great excitement. This will positively impact our operations and we will continue to strive to strengthen the bond that exists with a view to contribute even further to the economy of both port areas.”

The UAE has trade relations with every state in the USA, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, with Florida, in particular, being one of the top five exporting states.