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During the JAXPORT Board of Directors meeting on March 27, State of Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, Aruba Prime Minister Evelyn Wever-Croes, and other dignitaries from the island of Aruba joined leadership from JAXPORT and Eagle LNG Partners LLC (“Eagle LNG”) to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
The agreement affirms the ongoing efforts by JAXPORT and Aruba to mutually promote business and tourism opportunities between the two regions, share best practices on port operations and environmental sustainability, and explore the potential for trade and business development.
“I am honored to have been part of this historic event to strengthen the trade relationship between the State of Florida and Aruba,” said State of Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis. “Our ports sustain Florida’s exponential growth and the trade agreement signed today is a clear example of how we are keeping Florida’s fiscal health fixed on the future.”
Following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Monetary Fund indicated Aruba was one of the countries worst hit by the pandemic due to the shutdown of tourism. Under the MoU, the ports will work together to examine the potential for new business ties.
“Aruba is in recuperation after the pandemic. We do not only want to bounce back, but also bounce forward to become stronger and more resilient,” said Aruba Prime Minister Evelyn Wever-Croes. “This MoU is a cornerstone of economic growth for Aruba.”
The agreement follows a business trip by JAXPORT leadership to Aruba in January. After today’s board meeting, the delegation from Aruba toured JAXPORT’s facilities. On Tuesday, JAXPORT will host a roundtable to connect the delegation with Jacksonville-area customers and business development leaders to further explore collaboration opportunities.
Recently, JAXPORT partner Eagle LNG signed a multi-year agreement with Aruba’s power and water utility company, Utilities Aruba NV, to provide liquefied natural gas (LNG) from their Jacksonville facility for power generation on the island. The LNG will be exported from Jacksonville to an LNG import terminal on the island. The initiative is part of ongoing efforts by the Aruban government to enhance sustainability, reduce fuel costs, and transition to cleaner fuel sources.
“Jacksonville is a global leader in using LNG as a clean marine fuel, and this agreement marks another milestone in that evolution,” said JAXPORT Board Chair J. Palmer Clarkson. “This capability creates opportunity for the growth of LNG as a cargo type—further positioning our region as a leader in the use of clean fuel technology.”
“Eagle LNG and JAXPORT began working together almost a decade ago to provide LNG for bunkering and export into the Caribbean. Eagle LNG continues to bunker LNG for Crowley and other maritime vessels, attracting new maritime business to JAXPORT and the region, while shipping LNG as an energy source for a number of Caribbean clients transitioning from costly, dirtier fuels to reliable, affordable and clean natural gas from the United States. Our agreement with the electric utility of Aruba marks a key step forward for clean power generation helping transition Aruba from expensive and dirty fuels, creating substantial investment and new energy transition job opportunities in both Florida and Aruba,” reports Sean Lalani, President. “Aruba and JAXPORT’s support for these projects opens the way for new opportunities and economic pillars.”
“One of the keys to JAXPORT’s success has been our diverse mix of trade lanes and business lines,” said JAXPORT CEO Eric Green. “JAXPORT’s efficiencies and LNG capabilities provide options for continued economic growth for Aruba and Florida. We look forward to growing this partnership and the jobs and economic impact it supports for both communities.”
Top commodities exported from Florida to Aruba include food, passenger vehicles, electronics, and other consumer goods. Jacksonville and Aruba will examine opportunities to grow this trade.
“Enterprise Florida is thrilled to support today’s announcement,” said Laura DiBella, Florida Secretary of Commerce and President and CEO of Enterprise Florida, Inc. “Florida-Aruba trade totaled $334 million in 2022, and this strategic partnership will allow new opportunities to strengthen our robust relationship and grow Florida and Aruba’s economies for decades to come.”
In addition to Prime Minister Wever-Croes, other members of the visiting Aruban delegation included: Minister of Tourism and Public Health Dangui Oduber, Ministry of Tourism and Public Health Senior Legal Advisor Andin Bikker, Aruba Ports Authority Chairman of the Board David Dubero, and Aruba Ports Authority CEO Marc Figaroa.
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