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Port Manatee and Panama Canal sign agreement

MANATEE Port Manatee officials took a major step Monday to solidify the port’s international trade future.

David McDonald, executive director of Port Manatee, traveled to Panama over the weekend to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Panama Canal Authority that would establish a cooperative alliance between the two entities.

McDonald and Panama Canal Authority Administrator and Chief Executive Officer Alberto Aleman Zubieta signed the agreement Monday afternoon.

“It puts us in a very esteemed class of seaports and container ports,” McDonald said of the agreement, noting that ports like the Port of Houston and the Port of New Orleans have similar agreements in place. “These are all major container ports. I think they (the Panama Canal Authority) think this port really has all the amenities to be a major trading partner between the canal and this coast of Florida.”