New pre-arrival clearance protocols and reduced terminal handling charges for containers in transit, mean that Jordan’s deep-water Aqaba Container Terminal (ACT), located on the Red Sea, is now a realistic alternative maritime gateway for Iraq-bound cargo.
Containers imported into Iraq will no longer have to be trans-loaded onto new trucks as they cross the Jordanian/Iraqi border.
“The Aqaba Container Terminal has been working hard over the years to develop a competitive gateway to Iraq," says ACT Managing Director Steven Yoogalingam. “This will enhance the already strong Iraqi port system and gives the business communities of both countries a fantastic transportation system to better support economic development in the region."
Ideally located, the ACT is 550km - or 36 hours by road - from the Iraqi border town of Traibil and 48 hours from Baghdad. This development comes as the volume of Iraqi imports experience rapid growth - 86% last year alone.
Last month (May 2018) the ACT welcomed the maiden call of the new AR1 direct service linking Aqaba in Jordan with ports in China, Korea, Singapore and Malaysia. The service is jointly operated by Wan Hai and container shipping group THE Alliance which is made up of Hapag-Lloyd, Yang Ming (YML) and the Ocean Network Express (ONE). The extra capacity deployed by the lines into Aqaba provides ample space to support the needs of the Iraqi market.
“We chose Aqaba as the latest addition to our route due to the high potential of the terminal, and its strategic location within the region," said YML Agent Mohannad Al Bataineh. “We are impressed with the advanced technologies and handling procedures available at the Aqaba Container Terminal. This new destination will undoubtedly contribute to the expansion of our routes and operations and we are confident that Aqaba will be another success for our services worldwide."
With its deep draft, state-of-art facilities and best in class performance, the ACT has been able to handle ever-increasing vessel sizes - from 5,500 TEU vessels in 2014 to more than 14,500 TEU today. In May, the terminal welcomed its largest vessel on a regular service, the 14,568 TEU COSCO Kilimanjaro deployed on the new Red Sea Export (RES1) service.
The terminal handled 804,000 TEUs in 2017, with calls representing the world's ten largest container shipping lines. This represented more than 80% of global container line capacity. This provides the Jordanian and Iraqi business communities with the largest choice of carriers and the widest global access for the supply of goods and materials from overseas as well as to their export markets.
The ACT is a joint venture between ADC, the Jordanian Government's development arm for the Aqaba Special Economic Zone, and APM Terminals, which manages the facility. It is the second–busiest container facility on the Red Sea after Jeddah (Saudi Arabia).
A terminal expansion project completed in 2013 added 460 meters to the existing quay to create a total length of 1 km and increased the annual container throughput capacity to 1.3 million TEUs.
Iraqi imports grew by 86% in 2017 to $36.5 billion - the leading sources being China, Turkey, Iran, South Korea and the United States, with food, medicine and manufactured goods the primary products.