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JAXPORT lands $400,000 deal with Singapore-based shipping line

DeSantis Curry JAXPORT
Raymon Troncoso
Florida Channel/WJXT Livestream
Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at JAXPORT to announce a a new business deal with Sea-Lead shipping.

JAXPORT is making new connections in the Asia market, the latest being Singapore-based Sea Lead as part of the shipping line's expansion into the U.S. East Coast market.

The new four-ship rotation service will connect JAXPORT as the final stop of the East Coast line to one South Korean port and three Chinese ports.

The ships will stop in Norfolk, Virginia; Newark, New Jersey; and Charleston, South Carolina, then make their way to Jacksonville as the final American stop, before returning to the Asia circuit starting with the South Korean port of Pusan.

"We are delighted to introduce this new service and new destinations for our customers," Cho Kit Wei, Sea Lead managing director, said in a news release. "Port congestion has been a challenge for everyone recently, and [the new East Coast rotation] will allow us to service ports that are more efficient for our customers."

Gov. Ron DeSantis appeared in Jacksonville on Friday to announce the deal. A release from his office says JAXPORT estimates it will receive 400 to 500 containers and $400,000 in revenue.

The governor said he was proud the shipping line was moving part of its operations from California to the "wonderfully efficient and less congested JAXPORT."

Global supply chains have swayed between complete paralysis and shipping delays during the COVID-19 pandemic, with ports being unable to field workers and trucking companies unable to hire drivers. Los Angeles, the country's largest port, alongside fellow California port Long Beach, currently account for 40% of all shipping containers that arrive in the U.S.

Hundreds of stalled ships between the two ports in October caused product shortages and delays, leading to federal intervention to make both ports operate 24/7 ahead of the holiday season.

As a result, other coastal states, including Florida, have made a concerted effort to attract international business away from California shores, with the promise of higher efficiency and new markets.

Florida has invested nearly $1 billion into its commercial seaports since the onset of the pandemic. In nearby Georgia, where the Savannah port acts as a significant rival, U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff appeared Friday to tout federal funds for expanding the Port of Brunswick to also court international shippers.

"We're just one state, but we take pride in our ports. We made a lot of investment in our ports," DeSantis said. "Those were very wise investments. They're paying off."

Port Miami's imports grew nearly 18% in 2021, it's busiest cargo year ever, and Port Tampa's container weight received jumped 14% in the first quarter of 2022.

Port Everglades and Port Manatee saw similar growth, with the former seeing a 25% increase in imports since March of last year and the latter gaining a 15% increase in container weight this quarter thanks to a bump in imported wood products.