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Feb.22, 2016

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22 THE JOURNAL OF COMMERCE www.joc.com FEBRUARY 22.2016 GULF TRADE: 2016 OUTLOOK SPECIAL REPORT By Peter T. Leach THE EYES OF Texas and other U.S. Gulf ports are fixed on the opening of the new Panama Canal locks later this spring. Port executives expect the long-delayed opening to post-Panamax ves- sel traffic will be a seminal event in the growth of their volumes, but later rather than sooner. U.S. Gulf ports are hoping the expanded locks will enable them to gain direct calls by carriers from Asia, but this probably won't happen until next year. To that end, they've been courting Asian carriers for several years. "We're going to see some growth from the opening of new locks this year," said Roger Guen- ther, executive director of the Port of Houston Authority. "We've got two weekly services coming in now, and they're full, so we think that by the end of this year we're going to have more volume com- ing in just because of larger ships. There's a lot of cargo that wants to come to Houston and has not been able to because the ships are full." As carriers deploy larger ships on their all- water services to the Gulf, Guenther thinks they will call more U.S. Gulf ports to drop off imports and pick up exports rather than go up the East Coast. "Ports that we don't compete with, like Mobile and Tampa, will have the opportunity to gain more calls," he said. "We are talking to quite a few carriers in dif- ferent trade routes that are looking at Mobile," said Jimmy Lyons, director and CEO of the Alabama State Ports Authority. "We think there will begin

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