Israel has opened a new seaport along its Mediterranean coast that will bring much-needed competition to a sector plagued by delays and boost the country’s position as a regional trade hub.
The 5.5 billion shekel ($1.7 billion) Haifa Bay Port, which will be operated by Shanghai International Port Group (SIPG), will allow larger cargo ships of 18,000 containers or more to dock in Israel.
The country is selling off its state-owned ports and building new private docks in an effort to cut costs and reduce above-average waiting times for ships to unload. Some 99% of all goods enter and leave Israel by sea, and improvement is needed to sustain economic growth.
Closer ties with neighboring Arab countries are also creating new trade opportunities for Israel and Haifa is well placed to become a regional hub.
“I am confident that we can seize this opportunity not only for local prosperity, but to take advantage of the opportunities and make a real contribution to our neighbors in the Middle East,” Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli said in a statement following the port’s inauguration at a low-key ceremony on Wednesday.
Another new port on the Mediterranean coast, in Ashdod, which will be operated by the Swiss company Terminal Investment Limited, is scheduled to open by the end of the year.