RPT-Israel opens Chinese port in Haifa to strengthen regional trade ties
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JERUSALEM, Sept. 2 (Reuters) – Israel has opened a new seaport along its Mediterranean coast that will bring much-needed competition to a lagging industry and strengthen the country’s position as a regional trade hub.
The NIS 5.5 billion ($ 1.7 billion) Bay port in Haifa, to be operated by the Shanghai International Port Group (SIPG), will enable larger classes of cargo ships, carrying 18,000 or more containers , to land in Israel.
The country is selling its state-owned ports and building new private docks with the aim of cutting costs and reducing above-average wait times for unloading ships. About 99% of all goods enter and leave Israel by sea and an upgrade is needed to maintain economic growth.
Warming ties with neighboring Arab countries are also creating new business opportunities for Israel, and Haifa is well positioned to become a regional hub.
“I am sure that we can take advantage of this opportunity not only for local prosperity, but to seize opportunities and make a real contribution to our neighbors in the Middle East,” Transport Minister Merav Michaeli said in a statement after. the inauguration of the port in a low -Ceremony of the keys Wednesday.
Another new port on the Mediterranean coast is expected to open in Ashdod by the end of the year, to be operated by the Swiss company Terminal Investment Limited.
($ 1 = NIS 3.2045) (Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Mike Harrison)