PANAMA CITY, PANAMA — The Panama Canal Authority on Dec. 10 signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Port of Itaqui to promote the shipment of grains and other cargo in the commercial route between the north of Brazil through the Panama Canal to destinations located in the Pacific Ocean.

The Port of Itaqui is located in São Luis, Maranhão, which is in the northeastern region of Brazil and is the Brazilian port closest to the Panama Canal.

According to the Panama Canal Authority, the agreement will allow it to promote the use of the Panamax Locks for grain transits originating in northern Brazil and traveling to markets in Asia. The agreement also will allow the Panama Canal and Port of Itaqui to collaborate on joint marketing activities and exchange market studies and information on trade flows to support modernization and improvement programs.

“This agreement is very important to enable the handling of grains to Asia through the Canal, providing even more competitiveness to Itaqui and already contemplating the growth of grain handling by the northern arch of Brazil,” said Ted Lago, president of the Maranhão Port Administration Co.

The Panama Canal Authority said Brazilian grain exporters are enjoying considerable increases in shipment volumes. Dry bulk vessels transporting grains and other dry commodities accounted from approximately 22.2% of the Panama Canal’s total oceangoing commercial transits during fiscal 2018, which covers the period from Oct. 1, 2017, to Sept. 30, 2018.