A new agreement between ports in California and Ecuador has officials in both countries promising streamlined operations for fresh produce companies.
The agreement, signed in mid-May during a trade mission by officials from California’s Port of Hueneme visiting the Port of Bolivar in Ecuador, was described as historic in a news release. Banana trade is particularly dependent on the port, which sees more than 650,000 tons of bananas move through on an annual basis, according to the release.
The Port of Hueneme in Oxnard, Calif., is the only deep-water port between Los Angeles and San Francisco. It is also the port of entry for California’s Central Coast. Chiquita Brands International Inc. and Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc. both bring bananas to the U.S. through the port.
“It creates a very strategic opportunity to increase trade and diverse exchanges for the mutual benefit of the communities our ports serve,” Hueneme Port Commissioner Mary Anne Rooney said in the release.
Ecuador’s trade minister Dick Vega said in the release the agreement would provide opportunities for his country’s “growers both big and small.”
The agreement specifically calls for the ports to promote the banana industry. It also means the ports will share information and policies on facilities, personnel training, engineering and technical services, security and supply chain logistics, according to the release.
The Port of Bolivar handles much of the fresh produce bound for the U.S. from Ecuador and northern Peru, with 40% of Ecuador’s bananas leaving the country through the port, according to the release. About 30 million boxes of bananas from Ecuador come to the U.S. annually.
Officials from the Hueneme Port worked with Ecuador’s Ministry of Foreign Trade and the Institute for the Promotion of Exports and Investments Pro Ecuador via its sales office in Los Angeles, according to the release.