Gulftainer, a privately-owned independent port operator, headquartered in the UAE, has announced that its subsidiary GT USA has inked an agreement on terms with the State of Delaware, USA, which would grant GT USA exclusive rights to operate and develop the Port of Wilmington for 50 years.
Terms of the agreement are to be formally approved by Diamond State Port Corporation Board and the Delaware General Assembly within the next month, followed by the formal review by the Committee for Foreign Investment in the United States, CFIUS.
The new agreement provides Gulftainer access to one of the most strategically located marine ports in the US. GT USA’s concession includes the full management and development of the port’s existing container volumes of 350,000 TEUs per year, which is forecasted to more than double in the years to come as a consequence of this deal.
Notably, Wilmington Port, which started operations in 1923 as the first major port on the Delaware River, is the top North American port for imports of fresh fruit into the US, and has the largest dockside cold storage facility in the country.
Over the next nine years, Gulftainer is planning to invest US$580 million in the port, including approximately US$410 million for 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. During this period, the company will fully develop all the cargo terminals capabilities and enhance the overall productivity of the port.
The landmark agreement on terms follows over a year of negotiations and an evaluation of Gulftainer’s capabilities globally, including in the US. Within the USA, the company currently operates the Canaveral Cargo Terminal in Port Canaveral, Florida, after winning a 35-year concession in 2015. As part of these operations, the company has also been providing services to the US Space Industry, including contracts with SpaceX and Blue Origin.
John Carney, Governor of Delaware, said, "With Gulftainer’s proposal, we have an opportunity to develop the overall infrastructure and potential of the port, which can lead to a direct and significant impact on our economy as a whole."
Badr Jafar, CEO of Crescent Enterprises and Chairman of Gulftainer’s Executive Board, in turn, said, "Gulftainer looks forward to be given the opportunity to work closely with the State of Delaware authorities to achieve significant enhancement across the board, from infrastructure development and capacity building to creating a sustainable source of employment and overall economic growth. We are keen to position Wilmington as the major gateway port to the US Mid-Atlantic states."