Interview: Fouad Brini
What are the advantages of Tanger-Med when compared to other Mediterranean ports?
FOUAD BRINI: In less than six years of operation, the TangerMed port has experienced tangible successes. In terms of container lifting, the port surpassed 2.5m treated twenty-foot equivalent units in 2013. These figures not only place Tanger-Med as the seventh-most important port on the Mediterranean Sea, but also positions it as a front-line player in the Strait of Gibraltar. Additionally, it has to be pointed out that 27% of shipping activity in the Mediterranean Sea occurs in this area. The port’s strategic location in between major maritime routes, and the fact that it is located at the gateway to Europe, allows ships to dock with minimum delay. The Tanger-Med port has been able to meet the highest international standards in terms of depth (reaching - 18 metres), equipment choice, and the skill of human capital, enabling operators to remain highly profitable.
What key drivers will guide the evolution of maritime transit in the region during 2014?
BRINI: The growth of trans-shipments through the Tanger-Med port is closely linked to the global increase of sea freight. In this region trends are moving upwards thanks particularly to the expansion of West Africa, accounting for more than 40% of container traffic. Taking into consideration that approximately 20% of the global maritime traffic crosses either the Suez Canal or the Strait of Gibraltar, the Mediterranean Sea has become relatively indispensable. In this regard, key drivers will probably be countries exporting and importing bulks raw materials and the trans-shipment of containers or cars via strategically located ports. International road transport services, linked to Morocco’s vibrant economic fabric for many years, are also expected to encourage growth in the coming years. Passenger traffic is also not to be forgotten as, Tanger-Med welcomes more than 2.2m passengers and 700,000 cars, with an additional 180,000 cars due to the Renault factory and other manufacturers. Another significant aspect, promoted by the royal vision for integrated economic development in the Northern region of Morocco, is the expansion of TMSA projects beyond port areas. In this regard, big industrial platforms have been built creating more than 50,000 jobs through a network of 400 firms. Investors have considerable opportunities, not only due to Morocco’s qualified and competitive labour, but also from its economic stability and tax incentives, accessible through free trade zones.
How can connectivity and vessel turnaround time be improved from current performance levels?
BRINI: Over the past 15 years Morocco has developed and improved its national connectivity, especially the road and train network linking major cities and economic regions. Apart from a strategic platform for container trans-shipment, companies rely on the industrial, logistic and commercial potential of the Northern region that, together with the rail, road and sea networks, are key factors for fostering and developing trade. The region connects to the rest of the country through a large road and railway network, allowing importers and exporters to benefit from reliable and high-performing logistics infrastructure. The government is prioritising efforts to further upgrade performance of the national logistics chain, improve surveillance at borders and boost security at the New Export Zone.
As for the vessels, the concessions for port terminals allow operators to schedule their turnaround times on a weekly basis, which aids in avoiding dead time in the port’s breakwater. Once in the docks, the availability of cranes and trans-shipment equipment contributes to further reduce the turnaround time of vessels. For instance, our container terminals perform an average of 35 movements per hour per crane, a rate higher than at some major European ports. As for the turnaround time of car carrying vessels, Tanger-Med has accomplished an average loading performance of 120 vehicles per hour, allowing vessels to optimise their timing and satisfy the needs of key partners, like Renault.
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