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New shipping line between Jordan’s Aqaba port and US aims to cut journey to 22 days

A direct shipping line has opened between Jordan’s only port of Aqaba and the US, the official Jordanian news agency reported.

The agency said the line inaugurated on Sunday would cut a container ship’s journey between the two countries by 37 per cent to 22 days.

“It is a big opportunity for Jordanian industrial companies to increase their exports at competitive prices to the United States,” said Nayef Al Fayez, head of the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority.

During the first 10 months of last year, Jordan exported $2 billion worth of goods to the US, compared with $1.8 billion in the same period of 2021, according to central bank figures.

US exports to Jordan rose to $1.2 billion from $821 million over the same period.

But Jordan’s overall container exports from Aqaba remained steady at 86,229 containers last year, according to official figures.

Jordan is a main recipient of US aid, receiving $1.3 billion to $1.4 billion in development, military, and other aid from Washington every year. The kingdom hosts several thousand US troops under a 2021 defence pact.

In May last year, American carrier United Airlines started flights from Washington to Amman, connecting the two capitals directly for the first time.

During the past two decades Jordanian authorities have been trying to expand Aqaba by offering investors concessions and trying to spur consumption through lower taxes than in the rest of Jordan. Aqaba enjoyed a mini-boom in the 1980s, when its port served as a main conduit of supplies and weapons to Iraq during its eight-year war with Iran.

In 2018, officials said they wanted to revive an oil refinery project in Aqaba that was first conceived in the 1990s. Under the new proposal, the refinery would process Iraqi crude delivered via pipeline from Basra, doing away with the need for Iraqi oil imports by road. But the idea never gained traction because of the unstable relations between the two countries.

Last week the first cruise ship terminal opened just outside the city under a deal with the Emirati Abu Dhabi Ports Group.

Jordanian authorities have offered the group property and other concessions to upgrade the infrastructure in the city and build residential and commercial compounds.

At the end of 2021, the parties signed several deals to build tourism, transport, logistics and digital infrastructure in Aqaba.

They include the proposed $10 billion Marsa Zayed real estate project, a new communications system, additional berths at the main port and an expansion at Aqaba’s airport.
Source: The National News

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