Aerial view of container ship in dock at port (Courtesy of DFC)
The United States backs improvements to ports around the world, including an expansion and modernization of the Puerto Bolívar container port in Ecuador. (Courtesy of DFC)

The United States supports the development and expansion of quality ports that attract jobs and foreign investment to countries around the world while increasing trade.

On May 5, the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) announced a $150 million loan to expand the Puerto Bolívar container port in Ecuador. The project will attract up to $750 million in foreign direct investment and create up to 1,250 jobs.

The expansion will allow larger ships near Ecuador’s major banana producing region and bring more than $100 million in revenue transfers to the local municipality.

DFC Chief Executive Officer Scott Nathan describes the Puerto Bolívar port expansion as “a high-quality infrastructure project that will connect more of Ecuador’s people and communities to the opportunities of a global marketplace.”

“More broadly, DFC’s investment demonstrates the commitment of the United States to support our partners through projects that help grow the economy and bolster free markets while upholding high labor and environmental standards,” Nathan added.

In June 2022, President Biden announced the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment with G7 nations, which aims to mobilize $600 billion for sustainable, quality infrastructure in developing and middle-income countries by 2027.

The United States supports numerous infrastructure projects around the world that adhere to high standards and improve people’s lives. Improving ports often helps developing nations overcome geographic barriers to greater participation in global trade.

Between 2006 and 2011, the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) supported improvements to Benin’s Port of Cotonou, which connects Benin, as well as the landlocked nations of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger to international trade through the Gulf of Guinea.

Large container ship in port (© Prosper Dagnitche/AFP/Getty Images)
The Panama-registered container ship MSC Samantha maneuvers in the Port of Cotonou in Benin May 28, 2019. (© Prosper Dagnitche/AFP/Getty Images)

The expansion nearly doubled the port’s traffic and by 2015 the Port of Cotonou accounted for 42% of the government of Benin’s total revenue and employed 50,000 people.

In September 2022, MCC announced a $504 million regional grant program to improve transportation between the Port of Cotonou in Benin and Niger’s capital of Niamey. Benin and Niger will also contribute to the project, which is expected to benefit an estimated 1.6 million people.

This year, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency will host 15 port industry leaders from Pacific Island nations to share information on technologies and best practices that can improve port operations, security and sustainability.

U.S. investment brings modern technologies to ports, including advances in cold storage, hydraulic lifting and cargo transport, as well as dredging needed to accommodate larger ships and increased trade.

In 2019, a $50 million DFC loan facilitated an expansion that now allows Georgia’s port at Poti to ship greater volumes of grain and fertilizer, bolstering the food supply at a time when Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine has hampered agricultural production.

Man in hard hat watching container being lowered at port (Courtesy of DFC)
Poti New Sea Port in Georgia (Courtesy of DFC)

Opened in early 2022, the Poti New Sea Port allows larger ships to carry food from the Black Sea port to countries around the world. The project will also create local jobs and spur additional investment.

“We make sure that our financing is benefiting all the people in the country,” DFC Chief Development Officer Andrew Herscowitz told the America Georgia Business Council in Tbilisi, Georgia, in October 2022. “It’s not just supporting the business owners but making sure that every deal is structured to have a development impact on people who work for those businesses.”