29 February 2012 22:18 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS)--US presidential candidate Newt Gingrich vowed on Wednesday to deepen the port in Savannah, Georgia if he is elected.
“You have the widening of the Panama Canal, which will be completed by 2014,” Gingrich said in an interview with a local newspaper while campaigning in Atlanta. “And if you don’t appropriately expand the harbours, you can’t deal with the new, larger shipments, so it’s really very, very important.”
When the $5.2bn (€3.8bn) canal project is completed, ships from Asia will be able to unload cargo at Atlantic Ocean ports, enabling shippers to bypass ports in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle to bring consumer goods directly to US midwest and east coast markets.
But the ships that will come through the widened canal, classified as Post-Panamax vessels, will be much bigger than existing ones and require deeper harbours and channels. Many East Coast ports are doing everything from deepening their channels to handle the bigger ships to buying massive cranes to move boxes around.
The Port of Houston is planning on $3bn in improvements to berths, cranes and other facilities, some in anticipation of the canal project, according to a story earlier this month in The New York Times.
Gingrich said he would fund the $400m project in Savannah by authorizing offshore drilling for natural gas.
“The initial bids on the leased properties would more than pay for the port of Savannah,” Gingrich said.
Caterpillar, the heavy-equipment maker, is building a $200m plant in Georgia that will ship products overseas from the Savannah port.
Gingrich expects manufacturers to move their overseas factories back to the US as domestic manufacturing becomes cheaper compared to China and Japan.
As a lure for those companies, Gingrich would allow manufacturers to write off 100% percent of the value of new equipment on their taxes during the year they buy it.
($1 = €0.74)
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