30 April 2010 – Arabian Business
In another sign of the ever-increasing importance of the Iraqi economy, French shipping giant CMA CGM has confirmed that it will open its newly renovated deep water quay in Umm Qasr port, near the southern Iraqi city of Basra.
The move means that the world’s third-largest container line will be able to operate the first direct reefer service to and from Iraq, offering clients the ability to import and export perishable products by sea.
CMA CGM operates a two-vessel weekly service from Umm Qasr to the Gulftainer-operated Khor Fakkan Container Terminal (KCT) in Sharjah.
“This quay is dedicated exclusively to CMA CGM vessels and equipped with the most modern cargo-handling facilities thus allowing CMA CGM a complete autonomy in the handling of its containers into and out of Iraq,” said a company statement, released on Wednesday.
“These new infrastructures and services will strengthen CMA CGM leading position on the Iraqi market and will allow its customers to further develop their own activities in Iraq through these modern facilities.”
There has been increased interest in Iraq – particularly the country’s infrastructure – as post-war stability continues to improve.
In February, UAE-Australian joint venture Al Habtoor Leighton expressed interest in Basra as an area where the contractor was bidding for tenders, and said it was specifically looking at infrastructure, buildings and ports.
On Wednesday, US-based forecaster Global Insight predicted that trade volumes on the Far East to Europe routes – which take in Middle East ports – were forecast to rise by eight percent this year.
The shipping industry has been heavily affected by the economic crisis, with major lines suffering huge losses throughout the course of 2010.
But the number of container ships in lay-up stood at just 9.1 percent of the worldwide fleet at the beginning of March, the lowest figure since July last year.