The historic port cities of Savannah and Longueuil, Quebec, have formally agreed to work together for their mutual economic advantage by providing special access to clients and distributors and helping businesses search for new clients.

Brian Foster, chairman of the Savannah Economic Development Authority, and Jacques Spencer, who heads Longueuil’s economic development arm, signed the agreement on June 17.

The officials were attending the inaugural Southeastern United States-Canadian Provinces Alliance conference in Savannah, an initiative spearheaded by Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue and Quebec Premier Jean Charest.

Southeast and Canadian officials cited the signing ceremony as a precursor of other agreements they hoped to see develop between cities in the seven participating states and the six provinces.

The alliance is modeled after the 32-year-old Southeast U.S.-Japan conference that has reinforced the economic relations between Japan and the Southeast by bringing government and business officials together annually.

Ken Stewart, Georgia’s commissioner of economic development, and his counterpart in Quebec, Raymond Bachand, told GlobalAtlanta that the agreement would further strengthen the already important commercial ties between the two cities.

Longueuil is located near Montreal on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River, which like Savannah has aerospace, logistics and high-tech companies.

James Blair, a business development manager for Georgia’s economic development department, said the department has been working for two years in developing ties with Longueuil and for a year specifically with Savannah.

“The agreement provides a sense of goodwill and helps develop trusting relationships,” he said, adding that the department would help arrange meetings for clients and distributors of local companies and assist them in finding new clients.