Ports America Chesapeake said it plans to invest $500m in the Port of Baltimore expansion project in the US, over the next 50 years.

Ports America plans to build a 50ft-deep berth and equip the port with four cranes. This will be required to handle the oversize cargo ships expected to use the Panama Canal to sail from Asia to the East Coast after 2014.

Ports America will also provide nearly $100m to transfer ownership of 201 acres at the terminal from the Maryland Transportation Authority to the port administration.

The state will also receive a payment for each container that moves across the Seagirt docks above a 500,000 annual threshold.

The agreement is expected to create 5,700 jobs in Maryland, of which 2,700 will be permanent positions at the port.