Gulftainer will invest $600 million in the expansion to turn the port into one of the largest gateways on the US east coast, including a 1.2 million TEU container terminal. Image Credit: Courtesy: Gulftainer

Abu Dhabi: Sharjah-based Gulftainer has secured a 50-year concession to operate and develop the port of Wilmington in the state of Delaware in the United States, the company said on Wednesday.

Gulftainer will invest $600 million (Dh2.2 billion) in the expansion to turn the port into one of the largest gateways on the US east coast including a new 1.2 million twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) container terminal.

The port deal represents the largest operation ever run by a UAE company in the US, as well as the largest investment ever by a private UAE company in the country.

An agreement in this regard was signed by Governor John Carney of Delaware with Badr Jafar, chairman of the executive board of Gulftainer, in the presence of Delaware Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock as well as Yousuf Al Otaiba, the UAE Ambassador to the US, and other dignitaries.

“This landmark agreement builds on Gulftainer’s 43-year track record of delivering excellence and dependability in ports and logistics operations around the world, and we are confident that this public-private partnership will propel the Port of Wilmington towards becoming the principal gateway of the Eastern Seaboard,” Jafar said in a statement.

He also added, “Since Gulftainer’s entry into the US through our operations in Port Canaveral in 2015, we have discovered major untapped potential in this sector and we will continue to look for attractive investment opportunities in the region.”

Gulftainer currently operates the Canaveral Cargo Terminal in Port Canaveral, Florida and provides services to the US Armed Forces as well as the US Space Industry.

The Delaware concession agreement completes a preliminary agreement between Gulftainer and the State of Delaware, as well as the completion of a formal review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), granting Gulftainer exclusive rights to manage the port.

Plans for the Port also include development of all-cargo terminal capabilities at the facility and the enhancement of its overall productivity. Gulftainer will also establish a training facility at the development site specifically for the ports and logistics industries, with the facility expected to train and upskill up to 1,000 people per year.

Commenting on the agreement, Al Otaiba said the UAE and US have a strong, vibrant investment relationship that delivers meaningful and measurable benefits to businesses, and creates jobs in both countries.

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

In recent years total bilateral trade between the UAE and US has grown from approximately $5 billion in 2004 to over $24 billion in 2017. The US had a $15.7 billion trade surplus with the UAE, its third-largest trade surplus globally.