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The Tanger-Med port drains passing mega ships for transshipments

TANGER-MED, the container port set up in 2007 to grab a slice of 20 per cent of world’s maritime traffic passing through the narrows between itself and Gibraltar.

The Tanger-Med port drains passing mega ships for transshipments
28 March 2016 - 20:13

The Tanger-Med port drains passing mega ships for transshipments
TANGER-MED, the container port set up in 2007 to grab a slice of 20 per cent of world’s maritime traffic passing through the narrows between itself and Gibraltar.
Since then Morocco's Tanger-Med has handled three million TEU a year, with port officials confidently predicting volumes of 8.2 million TEU in 2018.
Its strategy is two fold: First, it is a transshipment hub, where boxes are transferred between vessels before travelling to other destinations. 
Ships from the Far East bound for Le Havre and Hamburg may drop of boxes at Tanger Med for onward carriage to Abidjan, Lagos and Kinshasa, perhaps even to Montreal, New York and Savannah.
"We are becoming a hub for transshipment for west Africa because we have weekly links to 37 ports in 21 countries there," said port director Rachid Houari.
"There are 100,000 ships going through the Strait of Gibraltar every year and most need to do transshipment. We are in an excellent position," he said.
This would make the port the biggest transshipment hub in the Mediterranean and Africa. In addition, the port includes a ferry terminal that handled 250,000 trucks last year.
It second function is to act as part of the Tanger-Med complex that includes four export-orientated free-trade zones, where customs duties are not imposed. 
Tanger-Med is the linchpin of Morocco’s policy of industrial development.
By capitalising on Morocco’s proximity to Europe and the low cost of local labour, the port has attracted hundreds of foreign companies manufacturing goods for export to Europe from its free-trade zones. 
These are mainly in the automotive, aeronautics and textile sectors. Renault has set up the largest car factory in Africa, with the capacity to produce 340,000 vehicles a year.
"The entire platform has generated 60,000 jobs in the zones plus the port," said Mehdi Tazi Riffi, president of the Tangier Mediterranean Special Agency.
“The real purpose is to generate economic activity, which is why the same entity is in charge of building infrastructure [and] running the port authority and the industrial clusters," Mr Riffi said.
Mr Houari said total revenues of the 700 companies working in Tanger-Med’s five industrial zones reached EUR5 billion (US$5.5 billion) 2015. The zones, four of which qualify as free-trade sites dedicated to production for export, occupy 1,200 hectares and are dotted around the Tangier area in northern Morocco.
Rail links and highways connect them to the port. There are another 3,000 hectares available for development, Mr Riffi said.
Drewry Shipping Consultants analyst Michel Donner said Tanger-Med was built when the world economy was booming and there was a high growth in maritime trade.
But even with the slowdown in global growth, changes in the shipping business are likely to work in its favour, he said. Shipping lines are building bigger vessels of up to 18,000 TEU capacity to take advantage of economies of scale and cheaper fuel.
“These ships cannot go in every port, so this trend will increase the volume of transshipment [globally]," said Mr Donner. “It is a very different industry now."

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