updated 9/30/2010 10:17:05 AM ET 2010-09-30T14:17:05

HOUSTON, Sept. 29, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Port of Houston Authority ( www.portofhouston.com ) has appointed Ben Line Agencies Limited Singapore ( www.benlineagencies.com ) as its representative to promote all-water direct trade between Asia and Houston, the leading U.S. port for foreign waterborne tonnage. Houston's Port Commission on Tuesday approved a two-year professional services contract between the Port Authority and Ben Line, which effectively positions the Port of Houston in one of the fastest growing regions in the world for cargo shipping.

"With the Panama Canal expansion project scheduled for completion in 48 months, the rules of the game have changed. U.S. ports are competing intensely to increase their shares of the Asian market," noted Ricky Kunz, the Port Authority's vice president of Origination. "As the largest U.S. port for foreign waterborne tonnage and the 7th largest container port in North America, it's clear that Houston is rapidly growing. We're confident that our partnership with Ben Line will help position us for the future and open new opportunities for commercial development in Asia."

A privately owned agency established in 1987 and headquartered in Singapore, Ben Line has a deeply rooted reputation dating back more than 150 years. The Port Authority's agreement with Ben Line will establish a presence for the Port of Houston and Port Authority in 80 cities across 15 countries, including Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

About the Port of Houston Authority

The Port of Houston Authority owns and operates the public facilities located along the Port of Houston, the 25-mile-long complex of diversified public and private facilities designed for handling general cargo, containers, grain and other dry bulk materials, project and heavy lift cargo, and other types of cargo. Each year, there are more than 7,700 vessel calls at the port, which ranks first in the U.S. in foreign waterborne tonnage and second in overall total tonnage. The port authority plays a vital role in ensuring navigational safety along the Houston Ship Channel, which has been instrumental in Houston's development as a center of international trade. The Barbours Cut Container Terminal and Central Maintenance Facility are the first of any U.S. port facilities to develop and implement an innovative Environmental Management System that meets the rigorous standards of ISO 14001. The second recertification of those facilities in 2009 included an extension for the state-of-the-art Bayport Container Terminal. The port authority is the first port authority in the world to receive ISO 28000:2007 certification for its port police and the perimeter security operations at both the Barbours Cut and Bayport Terminals. Additionally, the port is an approved delivery point for Coffee "C" futures contracts traded on the New York Board of Trade's Coffee, Sugar & Cocoa Exchange. For more information, please visit www.portofhouston.com

To access the port's Web site photo gallery, please visit http://www.portofhouston.com/publicrelations/publicrelations.html and click the link for Port Authority Photo Gallery.

The Port of Houston Authority logo is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=720

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