The port of Tangier Med registers record container traffic figures

The port activity of Tangier Med, in the North of Morocco, reaches a historical record of 7.1 million TEU containers handled and is the main competitor of the port of Algeciras in the Mediterranean
Tangier Med Port

 -   Tangier Med Port

Since its inauguration in 2007, the Moroccan port of Tangier Med has become the leading port in the Mediterranean in container transport and, according to the 2020 annual ranking of the Alphaliner database, the 24th in the world. Moreover, in addition to its enormous volume of activity, the strategic position it occupies in the Strait of Gibraltar has made it a key maritime point in international trade, as well as a fundamental element for entry into the economy of the Alaouite kingdom.  

Now, despite the trade slowdown faced by the vast majority of world powers - due to the coronavirus crisis - the volume of goods registered in Tangier Med has broken records. With more than 7.1 million TEU containers handled, the port has experienced a growth of nearly 25% on the data collected at the end of 2020, placing it above the port of Algeciras, in the south of Spain, with which it competes directly.

In global figures, the contribution of the port complex to Moroccan trade represents 50% of the total volume. Around 101 million tonnes of goods are handled in these installations alone.

Tánger Med Marruecos

"The activity carried out during 2021 consolidates the position of the port complex as an important strategic centre, but also its key role as a privileged logistics platform at the service of national logistics competitiveness," said the port authorities in a statement. These statements also support its leadership in the Mediterranean Sea and on the African continent, underlining its relevance for the development of the world's main maritime alliances. 

With regard to Ro-Ro lorry traffic (roll on-roll off, to refer to the transport of goods on wheels, in this case containers), the volume of traffic has grown by 14%, exceeding 407,000 lorries, due to "the recovery of industrial exports, as well as the good performance of the agricultural campaign and agro-industrial exports", according to the communiqué. However, contrary to what has happened with commercial activity, passenger and tourist transport has been affected by the health situation and has registered a drop of around 587,000 travellers, a fall of 14% compared to 2020.

Tánger Med Marruecos

The Tangier-Mediterranean project

Located in the north of the country, in a region in decline until a few years ago, the port of Tangier Med has become, since 2019, the largest in the whole of Africa and the Mediterranean Sea. Its construction has been carried out in stages and has lasted more than 17 years, the last two phases being the opening of terminals TC4 - in 2019 - and TC3 - in 2021. Today, these port facilities are connected to more than 180 ports around the world, establishing maritime links with 77 different countries. 

The development of Tangier Med is part of the "Tangier-Mediterranean" project, an initiative promoted by King Mohammed VI which aims at the economic expansion of the northern region of the country and which is based on the creation of a large deep-water port, three free zones - in which certain tax benefits are enjoyed - and the modernisation of regional infrastructures. The aim is to continue to attract important foreign investments, such as the Renault-Nissan Group and the Danish giant Maersk, as well as to promote rapid growth in the region's economy. This includes the construction of the Tangier-Med Zones shopping centre, a company included in the Tangier-Med industrial platform. 

However, several experts believe that for this initiative to succeed and to achieve commercial expansion and the incorporation of foreign companies' technology into local companies, it is necessary to get the latter to partner with international firms in the industrial, logistical and service process. This would also contribute to the development of Moroccan port facilities, which have become a key element in the creation of wealth in the country.

Tánger Med Marruecos

Algeciras and the European Green Pact

On the other hand, despite the fact that the movement of TEU containers is led by the Moroccan port and this position has only consolidated during 2021, the total traffic of the Strait continues to be led by the Spanish port of Algeciras, in Cadiz. However, this situation could soon be reversed if the European Commission goes ahead with the adoption of two new directives in the European Green Deal.

The proposals - called ETS (Emissions Trading System) and FUEL EU - present measures to progressively reduce pollution and limit greenhouse gas emissions from maritime transport by almost half by 2030. In this hypothetical scenario, given that the Kingdom of Morocco is outside the Commission's sphere of competence, ships and vessels calling at the port facilities of Tangier Med would not have to pay the CO2 emission taxes that they would have to pay in the Spanish port. In this way, Rabat would see its industrial competitiveness greatly increased compared to that of Spain, and would thus position itself above the port of Algeciras.