US-based Port of Bellingham has signed a new service contract with Ports America to facilitate the regular arrival of global cargo vessels at its Bellingham Shipping Terminal.

The three-year deal has options for two additional three years.

It follows negotiations between the ports after several shipping customers of Ports America requested the port to grant them access to the Bellingham Shipping Terminal.

Ports America is currently the biggest terminal operator and stevedore in the US.

As part of the new contract, Ports America will have exclusive stevedoring rights for certain types of steel and inbound international forest products. It will also gain rights for the use of metal / aluminium ingots, modules, as well as oversized and project cargoes at Bellingham Shipping Terminal.

Most of the inbound cargo will be stored temporarily at the terminal before being trucked to their final destination in Canada.

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Port of Bellingham Port Commission president Ken Bell said: “As the last Pacific Northwest seaport between the US and Canada, it was only a matter of time before cargo operators recognised the Bellingham Shipping Terminal as a congestion-free alternative to the docks and terminals serving Vancouver and Seattle.

“Increased cargo activity at the Bellingham Shipping Terminal will create jobs and stimulate economic activity throughout Whatcom County.”

“Increased cargo activity at the Bellingham Shipping Terminal will create jobs and stimulate economic activity throughout Whatcom County.”

Port of Bellingham is currently preparing the terminal and its surrounding areas to serve as a Foreign Trade Zone in order to allow customers to store goods without paying the US import duties and taxes.

Bellingham Shipping Terminal is equipped with 1,250ft of dock space on a deep-water pier, a 550ft barge pier, 85,000ft² of covered storage space, 40 acres of available land, and other facilities.

Ports America Breakbulk and Project Cargo director Bart Goedhard said: “There is a great deal favouring the Bellingham Shipping Terminal.

“In addition to abundant berth space, warehouse and laydown space, the terminal is near major cities, has a dedicated truck corridor to I-5, and has close proximity to rail.”

Ports America currently operates more than 80 terminals in 42 ports in North America.