Sharjah port operator Gulftainer inks 50-year, $600m concession for US port

UAE-based independent port operator and logistics company has signed a 50-year, $600 million concession to develop and operate the port of Wilmington in the American state of Delaware, the company has announced.

The ports deal signed by Gulftainer subsidiary GT USA marks the largest ever run by a UAE company in the United States, as well as the largest investment ever made by a private UAE company in the country.  

The 50-year concession follows a year of negotiations and an evaluation of Gulftainer’s capabilities around the world. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States grants Gulftainer exclusive rights to manage the port.

“This historic agreement will result in significant new investment in the port of Wilmington, which has long been one of Delaware’s most important industrial job centres,” said Delaware governor John Carney. “For decades, jobs at the port have helped stabilise Delaware families and the communities where they live.”

Of the $600 million Gulftainer investment, $400 million will be used on a new 1.2 million TEU container facility at DuPont’s former Edgemoor site, which was acquired by the Diamond State Port Corporation in 2016.

“We are proud to be making this long-term commitment to the state of Delaware, its community and its economy,” said Badr Jafr, the chairman of Gulftainer’s executive board. “We are confident that this public-private partnership will propel the port of Wilmington towards becoming the principle gateway of the eastern seaboard.”

Jafar added that since Gulftainer’s entry into the US market in 2015, it has “discovered major untapped potential in this sector and we will continue to look for attractive investment opportunities in the region.”

Among those who praised the deal was Yousef Al Otaiba, the UAE ambassador to the United States, who hailed it as an example of the strong economic ties between the US and UAE.

“Gulftainer’s investment in the port of Wilmington is a perfect example of this important economic partnership,” he said. “This deal will create new jobs in Wilmington and generate additional economic benefits to other communities across Delaware.”

Plans for the port also include the development of cargo terminal capabilities, as well as the establishment of a training facility for the ports and logistics industries that is expected to train and upskill as many as 1,000 people each year.

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