Maersk Line establishes presence in Iraq
Wednesday, 30 May 2012 | 00:00
Until very recently Iraq was seen as being too dangerous for Maersk Line to risk opening an office. Thankfully conditions are changing, and Maersk Line is determined to do its bit to both capture business for itself and facilitate growth in the local economy.Maersk Line in Iraq has a dedicated feeder, 80% reliability, fixed berthing, and unmatched (expandable) reefer capacity.Maersk Line aims to ride the economic growth in Iraq and promote our competitive products and services.
Positioning itself in a high growth market, Maersk Line opened a branch office in Iraq in January 2012. This strengthened its sales presence in a region where the value of goods and services produced is expected to grow by 8.6% this year. Maersk Line is currently the fifth biggest player in Iraq, having doubled its market share this year to between 10% and 12%.
A delicate environment
Maersk Line’s new branch is in the port of Umm Qasr, in the Basrah region of Iraq. The port is central to trade in Iraq, with containers arriving from all over the world. Iraq is still not an easy place to do business, and there are still the inherent risks of working in a new and delicate democracy. Ayad Sultan, the first external sales representative, admits this risk is the main challenge of working in Iraq in general and that Umm Qasr is “no exception.”
“Establishing the office in Iraq is the key to do the business as planned. It ensures that there are no misunderstandings as issues can be dealt with on the spot. Our customers feel the importance that our company attaches to Iraq,” he adds.
In fact, planning for the office began in 2011, but were a number of challenges; legal issues, security risks, finding the right location, and building a local team committed to, and passionate about, the Maersk values and vision.
Setting up an office in Umm Qasr will provide a dedicated team on the ground so customers in and out of Iraq will feel more secure in knowing they have a business partner they can highly depend on.
Providing back office support, third-party agent Inchcape Shipping Services in Umm Qasr will handle documentation and cash services to Maersk Line customers.
As agency setup and staffing is in place, the next step expanding Maersk Line’s market position in Iraq by promoting its competitive service level and products to/from Iraq through Umm Qasr.
The new branch manager is former Iraqi naval Captain Munthir Sabeeh Abdullah Al-Khalaf, who joined Maersk Line as recently as February. He is upbeat and determined to improve Maersk Line’s position in the market: “The first challenge is how we make the name of Maersk the number one in the Iraqi market and the second is how we deal with the rules, laws and the surrounding environments of the work in Iraq.”
Differentiating Maersk Line
He might just succeed with the help of colleagues who have already managed to differentiate Maersk Line in even this difficult market: Maersk Line maintains an unmatched schedule reliability of 80% in Iraq. This a great help in ensuring a steady flow of goods to the Iraqi market.
These goods are essential: containerised volumes help reconstruction and include many food imports. Maersk Line’s reefer capabilities, in particular, ensure that high quality products with long shelf lives are available in Iraq.
“Now that the agency setup and staffing is in place, the next step is to considerably expand our market position in Iraq, assist the Iraqi government and people in prosperous growth. To do this, we appreciate and need the assistance of the entire Maersk Line organisation world-wide to aggressively sell our very competitive service level and products to and from Iraq,” he concludes.
Today, the Iraqi market is served through several corridors including Jordan, Kuwait and Turkey besides the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr. Each corridor holds their own individual advantages and Maersk Line serves customers through all of them. Iraq has a high value industrial base comprising mainly of petroleum, chemicals, textiles, construction materials, food processing, fertiliser, and metal fabrication/processing. With its rapid growth, predominantly young population and vast hydrocarbon resources, Iraq could experience near double-digit economic growth for decades to come.
Source: Maersk Line