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Morocco opens largest container capacity port in Mediterranean

Morocco is to open new terminals at Tanger Med port on Thursday, which surpasses the Mediterranean’s largest ports Algeciras and Valencia in terms of container capacity, port director Rachid Houari, has said.

Houari said in an interview with Reuters in Ksar Sghir, Morocco that the aim was to bring in more investment and manufacturing to the country.

He said that Tanger Med with an annual volume of 3.5 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEU) in 2018 would also add six million in capacity after its extension worth 1.3 billion euros.

Morocco hopes the port, which offers a platform for exports by local production plants of French car makers such as Renault SA and Peugeot SA, will reach volumes of 4.5 million TEU by this year’s end like Algeciras in southern Spain.

Authorities at the port on the western tip of the Mediterranean, just across from the Spanish coast, hope it can build on its role as a calling point for container shipping firms, especially between Asia, Africa and Europe.

“I hope we will add one million TEU of containers every year,” Houari said.

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He declined to estimate future volumes, saying only the original terminal had reached 3.5 million TEU in just six years.

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“Fingers crossed we will fill it up in six years,” he said.

He said that about 90 per cent of container volumes passing through the ports were transiting to other destinations.

“The biggest market, with a 40 per cent share, is West Africa, where Moroccan firms have heavily expanded to in recent years. Some 20 per cent will go to Europe and 10 per cent to the Americas.

“Morocco invested 1 billion euros in the first terminal which has created some 6,000 jobs at the port and 70,000 others in a trade zone in the area,” he said.

The port is about 50 kilometres west of Tangier, the main city in northern Morocco, allowing space for expansion.

Tangier also has a ferry terminal carrying some 40,000 people per day in the summer peak season as Moroccans living in Europe cross the Mediterranean.

The terminals are operated by APM Terminal, and owned by Denmark’s Maersk, Germany’s Eurogate and a local firm. (NAN)