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(Beijing, April 24, 2006) — Today in Beijing, an agreement was signed by the leaders of the Canadian and U.S. Seaway Corporations and Chinese government officials outlining a plan for enhanced cooperation between the three nations in the field of marine transportation.  The document was signed by Administrator Albert Jacquez of the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC), President and CEO Richard Corfe of the Canadian St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) and Mr. Song Dexing, Director-General, Department of Water Transportation, Ministry of Communications, in the presence of Mr. Weng Mengyong, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Communications of the People’s Republic of China.

The Implementation Plan reflects a desire to increase cooperation in finding ways to improve and market the waterborne transportation mode, to improve waterborne transportation systems and technology, and to more effectively address water management issues of mutual concern. Initial cooperation will begin in the form of hosting delegations consisting of the SLSDC, the SLSMC, related stakeholders from the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System, and the Chinese Water Transport Department and its related stakeholders.  The field of cooperation will be gradually expanded to include more specific topics, such as vessel standardization, shipping rules and regulations for inland navigation, joint promotional activities, and water resources utilization and protection.  The agreement takes effect immediately and has no specified termination date.

The agreement evolved from a meeting last spring between Seaway Corporation officials and representatives from the Water Transport Department of the Chinese Ministry of Communications which revealed a mutual desire for more structured cooperation in the field of waterborne transportation.   An exchange of information between inland waterway officials from the three nations led to development of the cooperative plan that aims to create a more favorable environment for these systems to become integral parts of the intermodal transportation system.  “The Chinese are highly interested in the sharing of information and technology for our very similar inland waterway systems,” said Administrator Jacquez.  “The signing of the Implementation Plan with the Chinese Water Transport Department will help promote our ports’ capabilities to provide capacity to this growing market,” noted SLSMC President Richard Corfe.

The signing of the cooperative agreement is a highlight of a week-long trade mission undertaken by the Seaway Corporation leaders and 20 senior marine industry officials from throughout the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System.  The participants are meeting with high level government officials and key industry contacts in the strategic trading centers of Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Shenzhen in an effort to build the relationships that are critical for business success in China.

After the signing ceremony, the delegation met with high level executives from COFCO, the China National Cereals, Oils, and Foodstuffs Corporation to discuss shipping opportunities through the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System.  COFCO is China’s largest state-owned importer of food products.  COFCO currently imports grains, cereals, and other foodstuffs from the United States and Canada, primarily through West coast ports. The next stop for the trade mission delegation is Shanghai.