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seaport

Tangier, Morocco: Success on the Strait of Gibraltar

Z. Joe Kulenovic's picture
 
 Z. Joe Kulenovic
Modern factories, seaport terminals, and technical schools, plus priceless cultural monuments: Tangier, Morocco

In late 2014, the World Bank’s Competitive Cities team visited the Moroccan city of Tangier, to carry out a case study of how a city in the Middle East & North Africa Region managed to achieve stellar economic growth and create jobs for its rising population, especially given that it is not endowed with oil or natural gas reserves like many others in the region.
 
In just over a decade, this ancient port city went from dormant to dominant. Between 2005 and 2012, for example, Tangier created new jobs three times as fast as Morocco as a whole (employment growth averaged 2.7% and 0.9% per year, respectively), while also outpacing national GDP growth by about a tenth. Today, the city and its surrounding region of Tanger-Tétouan is a booming commercial gateway and manufacturing hub, with one of Africa’s largest seaports and automotive factories, producing some 400,000 vehicles per year (with Moroccan-made content at approximately 35-40%, and a target to increase that share to 60% in the next few years). The metropolitan area now boasts multiple free trade zones and industrial parks, while also thriving as a tourist destination. As in our previous city case studies, we wanted to know what (and who) drove this transformation, and how exactly it was achieved.

East Asia Pacific leads in seaport investments

David Lawrence's picture
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In this digital age, it’s easy to forget that there is a staggering amount of physical goods moving across the globe. Most trade—80 percent by volume—moves through seaports. Trade in developing countries makes up a good chunk of the total, and is growing fast. Handshake, IFC’s quarterly journal on public-private partnerships (PPPs), reports trade in developing countries is growing at nearly 14 percent.

And a lot of this trade is happening in Asia. In its June 21, 2012 issue, the Economist reports that the center of gravity of cargo trade is shifting from Europe to Asia. So it should come as no surprise that Asia is leading investment in seaports. Handshake reports that from 2000-2011, the East Asia Pacific region accounted for nearly $14 billion—32 percent—of private investment in seaports, mainly from China. The Philippines and Singapore are also major Asian investors in seaport projects.

Much of this investment comes through PPPs. Does this really make a difference? I’d say it does. Private sector financing and expertise make seaports and shipping more efficient. This in turn benefits emerging markets, which are becoming more and more engaged in global trade.

Could seaport investments be a predictor of future trends in trade? If so, Asia will become even more of a trade hotspot than it is today.

For further information, read Issue #6 of Handshake: Air & Sea PPPs.