Aqaba, Jordan - A delegation from the Aqaba Container Terminal (ACT) in conjunction with the Aqaba Development Corporation (ADC), representing Jordan’s Port of Aqaba, the second-largest container port on the Red Sea, is actively seeking to build ties with the Iraqi business community in order to promote Aqaba as the preferred gateway for goods on their way to Jordan’s eastern neighbor.
“Our port facility in Aqaba is the smartest, safest way to get goods in and out of Iraq” stated ACT’s Vice President of Operations Amin Kawar.
While the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has forecast a 4.2% economic growth rate for the Middle East and North Africa in 2012 overall, the Iraqi economy has been projected to expand by 11.1% this year and by 13.5% in 2013 with a commensurately increasing need for access to cargo transportation services and infrastructure.
At a Mideast trade conference, ACT’s Chief Executive Officer Soren Hansen also emphasized the advantages provided to shippers by Aqaba, describing Jordan’s only port as “an efficient, cost-effective option for businesses moving cargo throughout the Levant”. The Kingdom of Jordan, bordered by Israel, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East, has 26 km (16 miles) of coastline at the northern tip of the Red Sea, on the Gulf of Aqaba. Slightly smaller than Portugal in area, Jordan has a population of 6.5 million, and a 2011 GDP of $28.4 billion USD. ACT’s container volume surged by 16.2% in 2011 to 705,000 TEUs.
“Our growth at ACT is heavily driven by the trade to and from neighboring counties, including Iraq” said Hansen.
In 2011, transit cargo handled at ACT increased by 63% to over 100,000 TEUs as a $235 million USD major terminal expansion project nears completion. Improvements include a 14.5 meter depth alongside, and a 460 meter doubling of the quay, which will increase annual container throughout capacity to a projected 2 million TEUs when fully completed and equipped next year. A 550 km (340 mile) rail link from Aqaba to the Iraqi border town of Traibil, which would provide connections to the planned domestic Iraqi rail network, was approved by the Jordanian government in August 2011.
“We are seeing more and more businesses in Iraq and Saudi Arabia now viewing Aqaba as a long-term, sustainable element in their supply chain”, noted Hansen.
ACT is a joint venture between the Aqaba Development Corporation (ADC) and APM Terminals, operating under a 25-year build-operate-transfer agreement signed in 2006.