Virginia Port Authority Signs Trade Agreement with the Port of Subic Bay Freeport

First-of-its-kind agreement is a result of Sister City relationship

Friday, March 04, 2016

​As a result of the successful Sister City relationship between the City of Virginia Beach and Olongapo City, Republic of the Philippines, a Memorandum of Agreement will be signed between the Port of Virginia and the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA). The goal is to generate new business by promoting all water routes between the two ports to support trade and investment. This will be the first such agreement between SBMA and a U.S. port.

The agreement will be signed by Virginia Port Authority Executive Director John Reinhart and SBMA Chairman Roberto Garcia. Chairman Garcia is leading a five-person SBMA delegation that will also meet with other state, city and business officials to discuss trade and investment opportunities.

The terms of the agreement identify joint initiatives including marketing activities to promote trade routes, sharing exhibits and booths at maritime events and developing public relations and advertising strategies to promote the agreement and to stimulate new shipping business.

“We are so pleased that our relationship with Olongapo has resulted in this very important trade pact with the Port of Virginia,” said Virginia Beach Mayor William D. Sessoms Jr. “This provides Virginia Beach businesses with an immediate access to one of the fastest growing and strongest economies in Asia.”

Both the Asian Development Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) predict that the Philippines economy will grow at about 6 per cent in 2016, nearly double the IMF’s 2016 forecast of 3.4 per cent for the world economy, according to a January 2016 report in the East Asia Forum.

“This agreement is the foundation of a business relationship,” said John F. Reinhart, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority. “As we promote this all-water route between Subic Bay and The Port of Virginia, there is potential to grow jobs and business for the Commonwealth, the region and the port. The port is one of the Commonwealth’s most important economic engines and the Philippine economy is healthy and expanding. This agreement could yield positive economic benefits for both parties and we welcome the opportunity to begin this dialogue.”

The agreement allows the two Ports to share data that may be helpful in forecasting future trade flows, sharing research and obtaining additional knowledge about the shipping market. The information will also be useful to improve and modernize Port services for both Virginia and Subic Bay to increase demand and improve customer services. The Ports may also share training programs and activities. The initial term of the agreement is three years.

“From an economic development standpoint, this is a major step for us to expand our ability to attract international investment and strengthen our existing partnership with this very important Asian market,” said Warren D. Harris, director of Virginia Beach Economic Development. “Our department has also opened a trade office in Olongapo to provide assistance to Filipino businesses wanting to establish a U.S. operation in Virginia Beach or to help our businesses expand globally.”

The City of Virginia Beach also has a business development office in Dusseldorf, Germany.

SBMA was established in 1992 by the government of the Philippines to operate and implement the development of the 262-square-mile Subic Bay Freeport. This area was formerly the U.S. Naval facility in Subic Bay. The Freeport is a Special Economic Zone created to attract industrial, commercial, financial and hospitality investment as well as to promote job creation.

The mission of the Virginia Beach Department of Economic Development is to attract and retain national and international businesses to stimulate capital investment and create jobs. Virginia Beach is the most populous city in Virginia with a population of 450,000, and it is the 37th largest in the United States. It is recognized as one of the Best Run Cities in America by 24/7 Wall St. The Department of Economic Development received re-accreditation through the International Economic Development Council in 2012 and is one of only 29 economic development organizations in the world to have this recognition. It is listed among the Top Five Overall Mid-sized American Cities of the Future, Top 10 for Economic Potential and Top Five for Infrastructure by fDi magazine. ranked Virginia Beach as the Easiest Place to Start a Business and the 2nd Most Business-Friendly City in the country. For more information, visit

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