The Republic of Lithuania port of Klaipeda and the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding Jan. 20 that promises to open Philadelphia ports to the European and Asian shipping trade via the ice-free port of Klaipeda, the Lithuanian port city on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea.
The Philadelphia Regional Port Authority and Lithuanian officials discuss a new Memorandum of Understanding signed Jan. 20. Pictured in the front row are Lithuanian Transport & Communications Minister Eligijus Masiulis, PRPA Executive Director James McDermott and Klaipeda Seaport Director General Eugenijus Gentvilas. In the back row, second from left is Leo A. Holt, president of Holt Logistics Corp., and third from left is Robert Palaima, president of Delaware River Stevedores.
Lithuania's Transport & Communications Minister Eligijus Masiulis led a delegation of that country's leaders to meet with Pennsylvania state and city officials as well as Leo A. Holt, president of Holt Logistics Corp., and PRPA Chairman Charles Kopp and Executive Director James McDermott. Together, they signed the MOU, which pledges increased support for expanded trade between Philadelphia and Klaipeda. The delegation also included Lithuanian Ambassador to the United States Zygimantas Pavilionis and Eugenijus Gentvilas, the director general of Klaipeda Seaport.
The agreement follows months of extensive discussions between Lithuanian officials and the port of Philadelphia, led by Krista Bard, honorary consul of the Republic of Lithuania; Mr. Holt; and PRPA leaders.
"We live in an increasingly interconnected world, and this agreement significantly improves the Port of Philadelphia's ability to compete for the cargoes that mean jobs and opportunity for our region," said Mr. Holt. "The port of Klaipeda is a gateway to greater shipping and trade opportunities throughout Western Europe and Asia, and we are honored that they have selected Philadelphia for this purpose."
"Today's agreement is another step forward for the port of Philadelphia," said Mr. Kopp. "Under Governor Corbett's leadership, the PRPA is committed to revitalizing the port both through continued support of the river deepening project and through partnerships that expand trade opportunities with important port cities like Klaipeda."
Mr. Holt said Holt Logistics already has begun formulating plans to develop specific new commercial interchanges for cargo flow bound for the Baltic Sea that will benefit from the ice-free nature of Lithuania's prime seaport.
"Fostering and strengthening these ties will assist the port of Philadelphia in its ongoing efforts to attract new cargoes, continuing a growth curve that will dovetail with the opening of the Panama Canal," Mr. Holt said. In addition, he said Klaipeda can play a critical role in the shipment of military equipment to and from Philadelphia and Afghanistan or other Baltic states.
Klaipeda is the third-largest city in Lithuania and the principal ice-free port on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea. The deep-water port connects sea, land and railway routes from east to west in that region as far as China -- the main shipping lines to the ports of Western Europe and Southeast Asia pass through Klaipeda. The port's annual cargo-handling capacity is up to 45 million tons.
There is a federally mandated partnership between the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Republic of Lithuania, and this event marks another historic step in strengthening these ties.
"We are honored to partner with the Commonwealth and the private sector to create new opportunities for expanded trade between these two vital port cities," said Ms. Bard, the Lithuanian Consul. "The Commonwealth, the PRPA, and the Holt family have worked hard to make this agreement possible, and we thank them for their outstanding support."