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U.S. grants to improve Colombia’s ports

U.S. grants to improve ColombiaÆs ports

   The U.S. Trade and Development Agency on Wednesday awarded three grants totaling $1.2 million to help Colombia with its ongoing work to improve port infrastructure.

   The grants will be used to fund studies associated with terminal rehabilitation at the Port of Salgar, operational and security upgrades at the Port of Buenaventura, and centralized security and customs operations between the ports of Cartagena and Contecar.

   The first grant, valued at $415,000, was awarded to Sociedad Portuaria Multimodal del Rio Magdalena S.A. (Multipuerto), operator of the Port of Salgar, located along the Magdalena River near the town of La Dorada in central Colombia. A Colombian government initiative would revitalize the country's main waterways for commercial navigation. The USTDA said the grant would be used to evaluate conditions and equipment at the port and determine the feasibility of the proposed rehabilitation.

   The second grant, valued at $400,000, was awarded to Sociedad Portuaria Regional de Buenaventura, operator of the Port of Buenaventura. The port is a multipurpose facility, located on Colombia's Pacific Coast, and handles containers, bulk and breakbulk cargoes, vehicles and general cargo. The USTDA grant is intended to help the port operator study a number of upgrades to increase the port's safety, cargo handling and efficiency.

   The third grant, also valued at $400,000, was awarded to the Sociedad Portuaria Regional de Cartagena S.A., operator of the ports of Cartagena and Contecar on Colombia's Caribbean Sea Coast. In 2005, the USTDA awarded a grant to port operator for a 'chain-of-custody' security study. Due in part to the implementation of the study's findings, the Port of Cartagena received compliance certification in 2007 from U.S. Customs and Border Protection under the Container Security Initiative, and also procured more than $5 million in U.S. exports for project implementation. The new grant will be used to determine the feasibility of developing a central customs and security facility to integrate both ports of Cartagena and Contecar, which are located about 15 kilometers apart, the USTDA said.

   Opportunities to conduct USTDA-funded studies under the grants awarded to the three Colombian port operators will be competed separately on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site, which may be accessed through the USTDA's Web site. Multipuerto, the Sociedad Portuaria Regional de Buenaventura, and Sociedad Portuaria Regional de Cartagena will each select a U.S. firm to perform the study funded by their respective grants, the USTDA said.