Direct Shipping Service From Gulf Of Mexico To West Africa Signals Diversifying AGOA Trade

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Written by Dana Sanchez

The U.S. port of Houston has announced a new shipping service that it says offers the only regular direct container service from the Gulf of Mexico to West Africa.

Italy-based Grimaldi shipping company will visit Houston every 11 days with six ships rotating between Houston’s container terminals and 15 West African ports including in Nigeria, Ghana and Guinea, according to the HoustonChronicle.

The first ship, the Grande Guinea, left the Port Authority’s Barbours Cut container terminal in Houston on Friday.

“The Gulf (of Mexico) region is an important market in the growing trade from the U.S. to West Africa,” a Grimaldi spokesperson said, according to WorldCargoNews. “We are excited to be able to offer manufacturers, traders and the oil and gas sector a regular direct container service from Houston to a wide range of ports on the West African coast.”

Cargo volumes on this corridor have held up reasonably well, despite the oil price slump and cutbacks in oil exploration budgets, WorldCargoNews reported. “The favorable trading and investment environment created by the U.S. government’s Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) has resulted in a more diversified trade.”

With more than 100 vessels, Grimaldi is one of the largest operators of multipurpose roll-on-roll-off tonnage in the world. It is well established in the West Africa market.

In addition to Houston, all Grimaldi’s sailings will include service calls to Jacksonville, Savannah, Baltimore and New York in the U.S. and Dakar, Senegal; Cotonou, Benin; Lagos, Nigeria; and Tema, Ghana, according to WorldCargoNews.

“Having an established carrier like Grimaldi expanding operations into Houston is an extremely positive development and businesses will appreciate having direct service across our docks to and from West Africa,” said Ricky Kunz, chief commercial officer at the port of Houston Authority.

Roll-on, roll-off cargo includes anything driven on and off the ship such as cars and tractors, according to the HoustonChronicle.