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Feb. 17, 2014

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40 THE JOURNAL OF COMMERCE FEBRUARY 17.2014 GULF TRADE: 2014 OUTLOOK SPECIAL REPORT CONTAINERIZED CARGO AT Gulf ports is ben- efi ting from a north-to-south shift in U.S. population growth, growth in the region's automotive and chemical industries and investment in container-handling facilities. A higher-capacity Panama Canal could add to that equation. Port offi cials wax opti- mistic about prospects for increased volume from the new canal locks, which have been the center of a high-stakes contract dispute, but they concede that no one knows exactly how much or little of a bonanza the Panama project will bring. Bulk carriers and tankers may be the first to benefit from a higher-capacity canal. The Big River coalition, a collection of ports, carriers and cargo interests, has been lobbying for funds to deepen the lower Mis- sissippi's channel, currently 45 feet, to the 55 feet authorized in 1986 at the height of a coal export boom. Container ships with capacities as large as 9,200 20-foot-equivalent units have called at Gulf ports, but the workhorse vessels at Houston, New Orleans and Mobile remain ships in the 3,500- to 6,500-TEU range. Houston hopes to win permits this year to begin enlarging its 40-foot-deep channels to its Bayport and Barbours Cut terminals. The port authority plans to pay the cost of widening the channels and deepening them to 45 feet to match the dimensions of the GULF TRADE: 2014 OUTLOOK GULF TRADE: 2014 OUTLOOK GULF TRADE: 2014 OUTLOOK GULF TRADE: 2014 OUTLOOK By Joseph Bonney STEADY AS SHE GOES Growth in automotive and chemical industries propels container volumes and sparks investment in the Gulf

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